Apex Legends devs and gamers clash over Iron Crown monetization

    
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Wanna know how not to put out a dumpster fire? Pour some gasoline on it! That’s the lesson we’d like to think was learned this weekend by the Apex Legends studio and community. (We’d like to think that, but we’ve been doing this too long to be truly fooled.)

As we noted last week, the AL subreddit was on fire over the Iron Crown collection packs and their apparent $154 ask. Respawn tried to calm the situation with a Reddit post apologizing, ultimately vowing to be better communicators, not sell competitive advantages, not to “squeeze every last dime” from players, and ultimately to change up how these exclusive legendary items are being sold.

“At launch we made a promise to players that we intend to do monetization in a way that felt fair and provided choice to players on how they spent their money and time. A core decision during development of Apex Legends was that we wanted to make a world class battle royale game – in quality, depth, progression, and important for today’s conversation – how we sell stuff. With the Iron Crown event we missed the mark when we broke our promise by making Apex Packs the only way to get what many consider to be the coolest skins we’ve released. We’ve heard you and have spent a lot of time this week discussing the feedback and how we structure events in the future, as well as changes that we will make to Iron Crown.”

But things took a messy turn after executive producer Drew McCoy noted that the team wasn’t going to “engage with temper tantrums, and personal attacks or virtriolic threads.” “I’ve been in the industry long enough to remember when players weren’t complete ass-hats to developers and it was pretty neat,” he wrote. “Would be awesome to get back there, and not engaging with toxic people or asking ‘how high’ when a mob screams ‘jump’ is hopefully a start.”

It would be nice, but that’s now how the internet works now. The next player post in the thread effectively accuses the Apex team of being “money grabbing fucks that scammed their players”: “Good riddance to your game I loved it at release bought both season pass’s lvl 100, hundreds hours but after seeing how greedy you got (no surprise really as you’re ea’s bitch) the games uninstalled and anything from you in the future can die as quickly as its released IMO. And fuck anyone that’s saying this is better, like take there dick out your mouth and have some respect for yourself. Yes iv gone over the top and I can blame the whiskey all I like but iv gone from thinking oh shit these devs care to yep just as bad as ea’s reputation. You had no choice but to answer ‘risky’ comments so get the fuck off your high horse.”

McCoy clapped back: “Hey everyone – found the dick I was talking about. Guess what, I didn’t even read your comment except for the first sentence and last. This kind of garbage doesn’t warrant a reply – but lucky for you I already made a comment about this earlier. Go find it.”

And now there’s another Reddit war over whether devs should ever be allowed to snap at people provoking them, the likes and dislikes and golds and silvers are flying, and here we are. Didn’t we just do this last summer?

Source: Reddit, GIbiz. Thanks, Godnaz.

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Grimalkin
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Grimalkin

Reap what you sow, **tch

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Jim Bergevin Jr

I have to side with McCoy on this one. It is absolutely shameful what devs have to deal with nowadays, and the reason why we as a gaming community fulfill every single negative trope about us.

The difference between last year and this year is that the Anet Dev Who Shall Remain Unnamed showed a level of Toxicity that was equally unwarranted as what gamers typically show.

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Vincent Clark

Just to play devil’s advocate…the same people who are screaming they don’t want mico transactions or any semblance of a store are the some of the same people that don’t want to pay a monthly sub. Nothing is free. You have to pay something.

And if you think paying a flat $40 for an MMPORG right out the gate and not reaching into your wallet ever again (or at least until the next expansion drops, like, two years later), I want some of what you’re smoking. Seriously.

Loot-boxes, however, are non negotiable. They have to go. I don’t care what is inside them.

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Bruno Brito

You’re underestimating how powerful a healthy cosmetic cashshop with a sub model for some players in a F2P game can be.

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Frank White

Yes, but the operative word there is “cosmetic.” I get that people like their characters to look cool, but it doesn’t impact what you can DO in the game…. I think, on balance, it’s a fair enough trade-off if it provides the devs with enough revenue to put out more content that hopefully the player-base doesn’t have to pay more – or if it at least helps underwrite the costs of additional content so that players don’t have to pay as much as they would otherwise. I would prefer that you could get the same cosmetics items by playing the game, but then you wouldn’t really want to make it too easy for people to get them, because if they’re practically giving the stuff away then just about everyone is going to get those cosmetics, and then no one is going to feel quite so cool when they’re surrounded by a hundred other characters who all look the same as they do.

And my opinion is that, yes, a dev has every right to snipe back at players who speak to them like the guy who was quoted in the article did. The popular belief that the customer is always right and that businesses have to always be polite to them, no matter what, is a fairy tale. It’s thinking like that which is largely responsible for people believing that it’s okay to go on tirades like that. (Although, in most cases, I personally would just ignore those people. Easier to do online than when someone is there in the flesh and screaming in your face. ;)

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Bruno Brito

A cosmetic cashshop evades the need for one that changes how the game works. Simple as that.

I’m always for a middle-ground: Allow the cashshop currency to be bought with the in-game currency. That will create the market.

Veldan
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Veldan

I feel like I need to make another clarification about Apex’s F2P model:

In Apex, you cannot get duplicates. This means no Apex pack you purchase is ever worthless. You are guaranteed to get something you didn’t have yet, and if you buy enough packs, you are guaranteed to unlock everything. This is also why noone spent thousands on the game, because once you spend something like $700, you have everything.

This, combined with the fact it’s only non-tradeable cosmetics that are being sold, makes its model substantially better than, for example, most MMOs with lockboxes.

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McGuffn

That train left the station already. Guild Wars 2 did the same thing.

If this was the only thing Apex Legends was doing I wouldn’t have a problem with it. if the season pass was the only thing they’re doing I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Their problem is they’re changing their business practices midstream. They’re doing this in conjunction with the season pass and other monetization practices they might have, so after people have already bought into a game, the studio is turning around and asking for more.

(Earlier I clicked on a link explaining the background of this controversy and accidently left a version of this comment there.)

Veldan
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Veldan

The studio is not asking for anything. This is such a weird way of putting it. They’re selling skins. Things that are completely, 100% optional and have zero effect on gameplay. The game is not demanding your money. It’s merely throwing the option out there for those who care about it.

Unfortunately, people feel so entitled to receiving skins (even though the game is free so they have zero reason to feel that way) that they just explode over perceived high prices and go verbally berserk on the devs.

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Joey

I don’t think anyone is arguing whether or not the game is P2W. They are just upset or maybe concerned at how skeevy this change in monentization.

This could be a slippery slope to even worse monentization tactics. No one said the game isn’t fun either, maybe this is why you are seeing such a passionate response from the community too. They just don’t want to see Apex go down the same path as some of these other EA games.

Veldan
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Veldan

And people were rightfully upset at first. I was proud of the subreddit even, for standing up against lockbox exclusives. Then the devs apologised and presented a solution… and the people stayed upset. Became more upset, even. That’s when it became clear that it wasn’t even about the original problem anymore. Once the hate bandwagon gains momentum, it does not simply stop…

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Joey

Because gamers are completely fed up with these kind of tactics! It is always the same song and dance with EA too. People are just much wiser to what is going on now. What you are seeing here is gamers rising up in frustration because of what is happening wide spread in the industry.

Who cares what few a holes say on Reddit too? Why are modern human beings so bad at filtering what they read or ignoring people? Unless they are actually threatening physical harm to you people just need to ignore the crazy.

Let the idiots post, it will die down in a few days. Smart developers know how to stay out of that dumpster fire. I don’t feel bad one bit for Apex over what is happening. As a small business owner, we deal with crazy all the time and I learned a long time ago how to deal with that. A huge company like Respawn should have this stuff figured out.

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McGuffn

That’s because it isn’t a solution? They added a bonus item (an axe) that you can opt to purchase if you get all the other lockbox stuff. If you (or just) want the dumb pinnacle axe the solution isn’t a solution at all.

And that’s not even considering that they didn’t even just gift you the axe if you “unlocked the achievement” of getting all the other lockbox stuff. They made you buy it. It’s an escalation of the predation.

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Mark Jacobs

Let me just jump in and say that people have a right to be disappointed and angry (even really angry) but, remember that Respawn is owned by EA so attacking the developers as individuals/team (prior to the devs jumping in), and not the mothership, *might* be incredibly unfair. Bearing the brunt of those attacks can lead to thin skins among the devs especially if they didn’t want to have to do certain things but that’s what EA ordered. I know how thin my skin was post WAR’s launch. :(

That said, sometimes (okay, almost all the time) CMs should have handled the situation and calling out “players” as opposed to just calling out a subset of them, is just not a good idea, ever. OTOH, once you weigh in, as they did, then you have to accept responsibility for those words and things that happen afterward.

This is one of the reasons I’m not a fan of FTP + tons of monetizations, especially when there is a large corporate entity behind it. Way too tempting for the wrong people, way too tempting especially if the entity has “monetization specialists” who can come in and *help* the developers.

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Nathan Aldana

I mean its certainly helpful to EA’s bottom line.

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Mark Jacobs

Yep, sure is and they are the wrong people to do it.

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Joey

This just goes to show how fatigued gamers are with how these companies push these crappy monetization tactics on their customers. I wonder if we will ever get out of this F2P hell the industry has been the last 5 years? It is getting really bad.

My hopes that countries will start to make laws that reign in these horrible gambling systems that these companies are using to make money. It seriously is a huge moral dilemma for gaming. It preys on people with gambling issues and it is just absolutely horrible thing to introduce to kids.

Games were supposed to be fun, not a device for greedy corporations to just extract endless money from it’s customers. I’m all for supporting the games I love, but this s**t needs to end.

Veldan
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Veldan

Apex is fun. It’s also completely non-P2W, unlike MMOs. Its F2P model is closer to that of Path of Exile, which is often praised for it.

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Mark Jacobs

Veldan, yep, EA got off to such an amazing start with the game, major kudos to them and Respawn. That’s why this is such a damn shame.

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Mark Jacobs

Yeah, I agree Joey. My fear is that the lawmakers will let us down, as lawmakers so often do these days. I’d rather it be us, as consumers, sending the message that we won’t stand for it anymore but that’s not likely to happen either so it will probably happen via legislation.

I’ve always refused, and will always refuse, to take part in the kind of monetary and immoral practices that are so often the case these days. But it won’t stop until we, as consumers, simply stop supporting the games that follow those practices. Developers can monetize a game fairly (online games are not cheap to run, even if they are cheaper than it used to be) but too many of us don’t, whether because of devs desire to make more money or because the company that owns/controls us puts us in that position.

This is why I always say that the problem is with both the publishers/devs as well as the consumers. We need to stop letting the publishers believe that this type of stuff is okay with us. Pubs really do pay attention to what players are saying, especially if those sentiments are followed with diminished sales. If folks complain loudly but still play/monetize the game, pubs think that it was only a vocal minority of complainers. OTOH, if the sales numbers just going down as well as the CCU, they will usually pay attention. No promises, but they do pay attention.

It’s really up to us, it truly is. EA, and the other publishers have a lot of talented people in their studios. If they were tasked with creating “games as a service” instead of “games as service as a money fountain” many of them would succeed. But until either legislation is passed or gamers send a clear message backed by legal actions (please, no threatening calls to them, that doesn’t really help) such as not playing, not paying, and not praying for help from legislation, major change is unlikely.

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Lethality

I think it’s about time… he succinctly put exactly what the entire industry wants to say to those kinds of players.

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Bruno Brito

Of course you do. You’re a corporate rimjobber who comes here once in a blue moon to remember us that you’re in their payroll.

That or you’re just extremely naive.

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Lethality

Someone has to discipline the children, and so far their parents have failed. Maybe it’s time for game devs to take a crack at it?

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Bruno Brito

Again: Corporate Rimjobber on the payroll, or naive.

No one is denying that several gamers can act like children, but cut the crap. This is EA. They made their living on the back of people wanting to play fun games and be sold half games full of battlepasses that sold the rest of the game to them for a aggregated price of almost a 110 bucks.

Your absolute views are pathetic, and i’ve been led to believe by every single nonsense you post that you don’t have much hope in changing that.

I hope they’re giving you a free season pass, at least.

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Bruno Brito

I’ve told you that once: A F2P model is NOT a obligation to implement malicious cashshops. They do this because they WANT. It’s not the F2P model’s fault.

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Mark Jacobs

Is this in reference to me BB? If so, I agree with you, I’ve said this many times. I just don’t want to do a FTP game myself and I worry about how it can be abused.

OTOH, the one thing that is true about FTP is that it puts additional pressure on the devs/pubs to come up with a monetization plan to pay for the game’s development/ongoing costs. This pressure gets worse as more people play and fewer pay for the servers/bandwidth/support/etc.

It definitely can be done well but it’s hard enough to make a great game without the additional burden of monetization and the mothership’s demands.

Just sayin’. :)

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Bruno Brito

No. This is in reference for F2P games worldwide.

Here’s my problems nowadays:

1- Sub model or B2P model is not a deterrent for companies to produce predatory cashshops.

2- They overly monetize their F2P games in such imbalanced and predatory ways, to do exactly what they did here: If the game fails, they can produce a nostalgia classic trip for a B2P server with “no p2w whatsoever”, which brings me to the sentence i brought to you on the other thread: Why aren’t they reflecting on this BEFORE implementing this garbage?

3- Having a f2p model doesn’t mean to get rid of subs. ESO for instance has a pretty tough cashshop but i didn’t really got to the point of thinking it’s a bad implemetation ( yet ). Their sub model is really attractive. ESO isn’t F2P tho.

GW2 cashshop, for all the faults i give Anet, is great. I think it’s a good example of how a game can work, be just fine and yet, pay the bills.

I miss Wildstar cashshop. It was the best model i’ve seen in my life. Wildstar, sadly, was a mismanaged game and suffered for that, but i don’t think their monetization model was at fault.

You wanna see what a predatory cashshop is? Take a look at Allods. I missed the days where games would have their mid-level experience gain gutted just to sell experience scrolls on the shop.

the mothership’s demands.

I think you just answered my problem: The issue here is not that you guys don’t think about the monetization and want to give the players a even level for fair play. Is that the “mothership” ( great analogy, because the disconnect is on a pretty tangible level ), just sees results and wants you guys to produce even bigger sums of money ( which will not trickle down, and you guys are going to keep working, crunching and if you’re south korean, coughing blood ), which then proceeds to desperation/malicious moves.

But you’re a smart guy, Mark. I know you’re aware that predatory cashshops don’t bring that much money because they pretty much keep gamers away.

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Mark Jacobs

BB, yeah, I get it but sometimes predatory cash shops have brought in money in mobile games (Smurf Village on mobile for example) especially when kids are involved.

As to the mothership, yep, publishers and developers have always been a double-edged sword in the industry. Sometimes either party can get greedy, do the dumb, etc. What has always scared me about FTP is the fact that people are tempted to do things to bring in just a little more money for reasons (share price, bonuses, profit-sharing, etc.) as opposed to making a good game. Let me draw an analogy to a sub-based MMORPG. When we were talking about expansions for Dark Age or WAR, it was all about having people come back and play the game again as well as stay longer. Now, you can argue (fairly) that such a thing is analogous to making a great cash shop item(s). I’d argue though that making a great expansion such as Shrouded Isles, added lots of fun times for the players but cost a lot of money to make. And while the result is the same (more users/money for the studio), we were all about adding more fun, more areas, a lot more stuff to the game. OTOH, most cash shop items are cheap to make and can bring in a lot of revenue for the company as opposed to having an entire team work on the expansion (WoW’s Burning Crusade is an even better example). So, at least to me, it seems far less predatory than the cash shops. And the fact that these items are so cheap, in general, to make, the temptation is even greater. And in a FTP game, where you might not care if some people rage quit if other people buy the item, the temptation increases again.

Again, I do 100% agree that you can make a FTP with a fair cash shop and monetizations but I do think it’s just quite hard, especially in a big PC game versus the latest clone of Match-3 on mobile. :)

I’m just glad I don’t have to make one of those games in order to keep the lights on. I could do it, but I don’t think I’d like that.

Cheers BB, fun exchange!

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Bruno Brito

I get it but sometimes predatory cash shops have brought in money in mobile games (Smurf Village on mobile for example) especially when kids are involved.

True. To be fair, tho, there aren’t many free fair games on mobile. Things are a bit “better” on PC Gaming.

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Richard de Leon III

IMHO, if they expect to get more than 60 to 80 dollars for a game over a year a two with either initial charges or mtls, its too much. I dont expect them not to charge for online games over the years, but anything more than a typical 15 dollar a month sub I cant stand even its just to pay for the servers.

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Bruno Brito

Oh, a game by EA has issues with monetization?

Shocking.

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Ashfyn Ninegold

After reading the discussions below, rather than replying to one and not another, I’m posting anew about my own personal journey with cash shops.

When LOTRO went free to play (the second AAA western game to do so after DDO), I was very enthusiastic. I loved LOTRO and as a lifetime subscriber wanted the ability to throw more money at it since at the time it seemed in danger of going under. I wanted to be able to buy cosmetics, mounts and housing items. And support my game.

And lo, my prayers were answered.

And then mission creep set in. Investors saw that gaming was no longer a fringe hobby, but had the ability to generate massive amounts of profits. Independent developers became part of huge global corporations with research departments, data crunchers and long fingers. Games became heavily monetized. Game design became heavily slanted towards monetization.

And that’s where I put down the party hat and stopped being naive about cash shops.

Now, game monetization has gone way past games simply being designed to grind you into oblivion without cash shop items. Games developers now employ predatory designs, from the UI to the teaser to every psychological trick the gambling industry has employed for decades, to manipulate gamers into buying.

Once the curtain flew back and I saw that the Wiz was just a grasping, demanding hole of insatiability that would never be filled, my enjoyment of cash shops came to a dead stop.

I hate being manipulated. I hate being the sucker, excuse me, the whale. I hate that the game I’m enjoying is really designed to flip my switches to unlock my credit card rather than provide me with entertainment or an expression of the developers’ creativity.

I’ve gone from loving the idea of cash shops to despising them. I’ve gone from falling in love with super mounts sold only this one time! to never touching garbage like that.

The only reason I’ve had to become a wiser, wary consumer is because game design is now a minefield of manipulation and deceit.

I’m not going to call a developer or publisher that employs these kinds of designs (of which Respawn’s is absolutely the shining example) as greedy fucks, because that’s just crude, coarsens the dialogue and doesn’t get to the heart of it.

They’re amoral, rapacious, destructive despoilers.

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Nathan Aldana

Thats the other thing/

Game companies love to keep up the illusion theyre a small business, when the reality is videogames is one of the biggesdt and most profitable industries on the planet, with CEOs in the top 10s of pay for all CEOs

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Bruno Brito

MMOs specifically are some of the most expensive stuff to make, and always require a huge ammount of investiment. I’m highly sure they are near movies, or surpass them.

That being said, since MMOs are often played by millions, they tend to rake in a huge ammount of cash.

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psytic

I can’t condone the behavior on Reddit but at the same time these companies have done this to themselves. Gamers and Youtubers are practically screaming at the top of their lungs, we do not want predatory micro transactions and its getting worse and worse and every year they try to take another inch.

I can see why people are starting to lose their shit and go defcon 5 with great regularity. The industry is just getting worse. There is developers that never get shit on like this and its because they don’t pull this kind of crap. If they start treating Gamers with respect I guarantee they will get respect back. Look at how people treat CD Projekt Red vs. Activision and EA.

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McGuffn

Wonder if this studio has similar standards as arenanet, because what’s going on here is far worse.