Respawn Entertainment, the developers behind Apex Legends, responded to fans who criticized a newly announced microtransaction mechanic with insults and derision.
On August 13th, Respawn Entertainment announced the Iron Crown Collection event for Apex Legends. The event introduces a limited “Bloodhound Heirloom set,” featuring an exclusive Intro Quip, Banner Pose, and Melee Weapon Skin, which can only be purchased by players after collecting all 24 timed-exclusive Iron Crown Collection event items:
To obtain the Bloodhound Heirloom set, a player must first acquire all 24 Iron Crown Collection items from Iron Crown packs, which cost 700 Apex coins (approx. $7 USD) as opposed to standard Apex Legends loot boxes which cost only 100 Apex coins (approx. $1 USD). Though the player is given two free packs for completing in-game challenges, the total cost of the Iron Crown Collection still amounts to approx. $154 USD. After collecting the set, the players are then granted the option to purchase the Bloodhound Heirloom set for an additional $35 USD. (Related: Report: Twitch Streamer ‘Ninja’ Paid $1 Million to Launch EA’s Apex Legends)
Following this announcement, many players were unhappy with the Iron Crown loot system, accusing Respawn of engaging in predatory microtransaction practices. Many of these users took to the /r/ApexLegends subreddit to voice their concerns directly to the community and to Respawn Entertainment. The community backlash eventually led to Respawn Entertainment making changes to their loot structure, as announced by community manager Jay Frechette in a Reddit post. The announcement closed by directly addressing the backlash:
“A couple other things I would like to address:
We need to be better at letting our players know what to expect from the various event structures in Apex Legends. Over the last six months we’ve been learning a lot about operating a live service free-to-play game, and one of the take-aways from this week (beyond what was mentioned above) is that our messaging for expectations needs to be clearer. This is a different event structure than the Legendary Hunt from Season 1, and it will be different from planned future upcoming events. We’re learning more each day on what works, what doesn’t, and how to provide the best possible experiences and content to all of you.
With Apex Legends it is very important to us that we don’t sell a competitive advantage. Our goal has not been to squeeze every last dime out of our players, and we have structured the game so that all players benefit from those who choose to spend money – events like Legendary Hunt or Iron Crown exist so that we can continue to invest in creating more free content for all players. This week has been a huge learning experience for us and we’re taking the lessons forward to continue bringing the best possible experience to all of you.
Thanks again for being a part of the Apex Legends community, we look forward to continuing to release awesome new stuff for everyone to enjoy!”
However, many players felt that this message failed to address the core problem behind their initial, predatory microtransaction practice. As players began to voice their continued dissatisfaction with Respawn Entertainment’s handling of the situation a dev by the username of /u/dko5 began to meet these players’ frustrations with personal insults and dismissive attitudes. (Related: EA and Respawn’s Apex Legends Character Roster Features Two LGBTQ Characters and an Interesting Robot)
“/u/Dominic_Artuso: $20 is a lot better then gambling with those Crown Packs. They listened, they heard, and hopefully the next event will be improved. Atleast they are communicating with us. Probably why they didn’t respond so quickly because of so much backlash. I like Respawn. I respect them. Thanks for the update!
/u/dko5: We’ve said it before, but we will not engage with temper tantrums, and personal attacks or virtriolic threads are completely unacceptable. We took a look in the mirror this week (lol – thanks for all the attacks guys) and decided we hadn’t met up obligations and are making changes because we believe in our approach.
I’ve been in the industry long enough to remember when players weren’t complete ass-hats to developers and it was pretty neat. I forged a bunch of long lasting relationships from back then. 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.
/u/dko5: Hey – hate on us if we do something stupid. No one here was ???cOnFuSeD??? when we don’t live up to our expectations. Just give us the opportunity to make changes and do the right thing, thats all. Also, don’t be a dick. It was quite the treat to wake up on Wednesday to a parade of awful Tweets because someone posted an old quote of mine here. Devs are people too, ya know.
/u/daviss2: “Iv been in the industry long enough to remember when players weren’t asshats to developers”
Oh.. Well I guess you can also remember when developers weren’t money grabbing f**** that scammed their players too? Free to play blah blah blah that doesn’t give you any right to charge $20 for a skin you should be setting the tone for other company’s to follow and stop f****** your player base who commit their time to play you’re game. 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 b****) the games uninstalled and anything from you in the future can die as quickly as its released IMO. And f*** 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 f*** off your high horse.
/u/dko5: 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.
Frechette would defend /u/dko5’s outbursts, passive aggressively accusing the Apex Legends community of engaging in the same behavior they felt was unacceptable:
/u/hb305: Completely abhor this meager attempt to walk back the backlash. And then the immature “well you wonder why we don’t talk to the community more..?” Talking about how your playerbase is full of “asshats” and “dicks”…..in your apology post….. not a good look at all.
What a surprise, people reject money hungry tactics and tend to respond angrily…… not gonna garner any sympathy from me, nor any playing time, and SURELY no more money. Bought battlepasses 1 and 2, nothing ever ever again.
Add that to your statistics showing “great player involvement” from this mockery of an event…. 👋🏻
/u/Jayfresh_Respawn: So it’s fine for you all to call us liars, full of shit, and other personal attacks when we communicate an apology and update to the event but we’re “immature” when we call people out on it. Got it.
The situation eventually warranted a response from Respawn Entertainment CEO Vince Zampella, who took responsibility and apologized for their failings in these community interactions. (Archive link: https://archive.vn/6MXk7)
— Vince Zampella (@VinceZampella) August 19, 2019
Zampella’s tweet reads:
“On Friday, we gave Apex fans an update on how we were changing the Iron Crown event. Some of the team then joined a discussion with our community on Reddit, and things got to a pretty bad place. Some of our folks crossed a line with their comments, and that’s not how we want Respawn to be represented. I apologize to any of our fans we offended. I will always stand behind the team here at Respawn and support them on speaking out against some of the toxic and nasty comments being directed at them, including everything from death threats to comments aimed at their family 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. Last week we didn’t do that, and going forward we will be better. Having an open, healthy relationship with our community is incredibly important to all of us at Respawn.”