It’s been one week since Respawn unveiled Apex Legends latest event, the Iron Crown, along with a long-awaited solo mode. This event also introduces 24 eye-catching skins up for grabs, including a pretty sick Bloodhound heirloom item, but with a catch.
There are 12 Epic and 12 Legendary items in the Iron Crown collection. Each of the items in the collection can be earned in the Iron Crown Apex Packs. Since Respawn promised there would be no duplicates, players will only need to open 24 Iron Crown Apex Packs to collect them all.
Sounds easy? Far from it.
The game provides you with a taste with only 2 free packs after completing a set of challenges. If you want more packs, you’ll have to fork out a considerable amount of cash. Plus, the game doesn’t allow you to purchase the items from the collection separately. So the only way to obtain a cosmetic is through purchasing the Apex Pack, requiring a total amount of US$203 (RM847) to complete the collection.
This caused a massive uproar in the community.
The Devs’ Response
The devs have finally responded to the outcry by finally letting players purchase a cosmetic of their choosing albeit at a steeper price.
“Starting on 8/20, we’ll be adding and rotating all twelve of the event-exclusive Legendary items into the store over the course of the final week of the event for the regular Legendary skin cost of 1,800 Apex Coins.
You will still be able to purchase Iron Crown Apex Packs for 700 Apex Coins if you choose.”
For those interested, here’s the schedule:
It’s definitely a price to pay for the freedom of choice as opposed to being forced to spend for only a chance for one of the cosmetics. Not to mention, you need all 24 Iron Crown items before you can get a chance to spend more for the Bloodhound Heirloom item. For the uninitiated, this is a predatory marketing tactic called ‘kompu gacha‘ or ‘complete gacha‘, which is illegal in Japan.
Respawn has also realised their blunder of going against their own words and has apologised to their fans. Project Lead, Drew McCoy, in a GamesRadar pre-launch interview once said:
“In every aspect, we’ve asked ourselves, ‘can we legitimately look at ourselves in the mirror and say we’re doing the right thing here?’ That may mean that we’re leaving money on the table, and that’s OK,” he says, adding.
“We can’t leave all the money on the table, but we’re not trying to make $10 billion – we’re trying to cultivate a huge and ravenous fan base, and we’re going to do that by treating our players with respect.”
They have also stated that they will improve transparency in regards to future updates and events, promising a more detailed explanation on how future events are structured
I think that this outburst was justified. In a game where progression is tied to nothing else but cosmetics, it puts a dampener on your progression, which in turn, removes any incentive to play further. This affects gameplay. However, as long as these cosmetics do not give a significant advantage over other players, such as providing extra stats (read: pay-to-win), it should be fine.
However, the predatory business model that was initially promoted in the Iron Crown event was not okay, at all. I have been thinking and comparing to games such as Destiny in which significant content was locked behinds paywalls. Well, that’s how the business models for MMOs work since…forever.
Just look at World of Warcraft. Think of it as a subscription for a live-service game. Even the upcoming Monster Hunter World: Iceborne expansion requires purchasing.
But locking skins behind an RNG paywall, with no other way of obtaining each skin is just plain harsh. I understand that Apex Legends is a free-to-play game and the developers need a source of income to sustain the game and invest for better events, but this was simply not the way.
Redditor u/SanSeb has suggested a way better method to earn skins and yet give a chance for players to spend to accelerate the process. Here’s what he thinks about it:
The End Game
At the end of the day, I’d joke around with my friends saying “It’s all EA and their surprise mechanics”, but deep inside, I still realise these ‘surprise mechanics’ are still harmful and unethical to some.
In fact, this exact issue has been gone and happened even before Apex Legends was a thing.
It’s true what the history books have been teaching us, but we were too blind, too proud to see:
‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
~George Santayana, 1905.
There’s no telling what the future holds for the fate of free-to-play games and gambling, but from what has been happening the past few years, it’s looking grim.