Players And Makers Of Apex Legends Resort To Name-Calling Over Microtransactions

Illustration for article titled Players And Makers Of Apex Legends Resort To Name-Calling Over Microtransactions
Illustration: Apex Legends (Respawn)

Over the weekend, the frustrations of Apex Legends players percolating over the battle royale game’s microtransactions boiled over as a developer on the game called players who are rude to developers as “ass-hats” and called one player a “dick.” Understanding why a developer would do that means understanding why the community is so angry.

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Prior to this incident, the Apex Legends subreddit was a generally peaceful place, one where the community enjoyed a friendly relationship with the developers of the game, Respawn. The subreddit even had a flair that would tag responses from developers on the game, as they would occasionally participate in threads. After the game’s limited time Iron Crown event last week, which introduced new collectable items, things in the subreddit took a turn over the microtransactions. Fans were most irked by a rare skin that costs $170 dollars of premium currency to unlock..

For the most part, even as members of the subreddit were frustrated with the microtransactions, they were quick to shift the blame to EA, who bought Respawn in 2017. EA is a habitual target of ire for video game enthusiasts, recently over repeated controversies with microtransactions and is seen as meddlesome with the studios it acquires.

On Friday, Respawn changed the event so that exclusive skins would also be available in the game’s normal store this week, for the standard price of legendary skins, which is $18. This doesn’t include the $170 skin, but it will be obtainable via lootboxes rather than an outright purchase after the event is over. Following those changes, a Respawn developer wrote a post on the subreddit, and things got more heated.

In that post, Drew McCoy, project lead at Respawn, made a comment about the event and the reason for the change, saying that the developers “will not engage with temper tantrums.” He was seemingly trying to explain why the developers were making a change in the face of player anger, while signaling that expressions of anger from players wouldn’t always trigger a change. He added that “[he] has been in the industry long enough to remember when players weren’t complete ass-hats to developers and it was pretty neat.”

A commenter responded to that with a long comment that began with: “Well I guess you can also remember when developers weren’t money grabbing fucks that scammed their players too?” McCoy replied “Hey everyone - found the dick I was talking about.” Afterward, the subreddit exploded in hostility towards Repsawn. Currently, the highest upvoted post in the subreddit with over thirty thousand upvotes is a screencap of a YouTube comment referencing McCoy’s comments.

Later in the thread, McCoy tried to clarify his comments: “No, I’m not trying to paint all players with a huge brush - I’m commenting on the fact that nowadays its just easier and less stressful to not post anywhere if you’re a dev. That sucks.”

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Kotaku reached out to Respawn about this situation but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

Update 8:02: Respawn CEO Vince Zampella tweeted a statement about interactions between developers and players on the Apex Legends subreddit at 6pm today. It included an apology to “fans that were offended.” It continued: “I will always stand by our team here at Respawn and support them on speaking out against some of the toxic and nasty being directed at them, including everything from death threats to comments aimed at their families and loved ones. But we shouldn’t contribute to it when we do comment, and add to the very thing we want to prevent. We need to lead by example.”

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No one likes being called a dick, especially when in a situation when you feel like you’re unfairly being asked to spend money. On the other side of the equation, game developers tend to take a lot of verbal abuse from angry players, and it’s inevitable that sometimes developers will lash back out. We’re only two weeks out from the developers of upcoming indie game Ooblets were harassed for their announcement that their game would be an Epic store exclusive.

The relationship between developers and players is on a knife’s edge in the world of Apex Legend and elsewhere. The ability to immediately communicate with—or insult—anyone you can think of has helped bring us here. It’s unclear how we get past it.

DISCUSSION

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Within the reddit were plenty of legit complaints about the fact that it’s unfair for a skin to cost 18 bucks, that you can’t buy eighteen dollars worth of in-game money, you’d have to pay even more to get a twenty dollar pack, that you could buy other games for twenty bucks that are quite good instead of a simple skin, that instead of giving out the items fairly, they’re being put into the shop and charged even more than the seven dollar loot boxes already in-game.

And instead of addressing all of that when being called out on it and the greedy monetary practices implemented, the developers and the game studio are dismissive, rude, unpleasant and just plain meanspirited. One of the developers made a comment on how players are such @$$hats. Wanna know what somebody replied with?

“Was it by any chance a time where cosmetic events didn’t cost 200$?…”

People should seriously think about that, and not go “Oh the poor developers” when the company brought this on themselves by being dismissive of legit complaints to begin with and implementing scummy policies. Warframe after all doesn’t have this problem, after all. Why not take a leaf out of their book? You can do F2P and not be nickel and diming people. And for those who go ‘But they need to make money’? EA and Respawn have already made a ton of money on this. They are using lootboxes as paywalls, and instead of having people unlocking things in-game, the most legendary and epic stuff is only HALF available; in the store for even more money than what it would cost in a lootbox, and that’s only half the stuff, like the legendaries. The epics are a coin toss if you can ever find them at all. That’s a very shady and disgusting business practice. And remember what you get for 20 bucks in League of Legends? A skin but it offers: new model, new animations, new character voice and new ability effects. And in Apex Legends…you get a bald Wraith.

That’s a ripoff, plain and simple. People have supported this game already. Many already bought both battle passes and some packs. The first one wasn’t even good, and the second is just passable, why should people pay even more money…and so much…for skins? And it’s sleazy, they put their best skins behind this event, they monetize event in a way we all know they did, their other means of earning money from me are either somebody gambling or a poor schmuck buying a Mirage in a jacket or something. None of that seems appetizing, to put it that way and some of that is downright insulting.

And here’s the bottom line. It isn’t the game players that have the power, it’s the companies and the developers. Literally ALL gamers have is their voice, because just enough “whales” exist and boycotts are so useless that nothing else BUT whining will get attention or make changes happen. Yet so many people who defend this think the gamers are on an equal playing field. Sorry. They’re not. Respawn screwed up. EA screwed up.