Apex Legends developer Respawn Entertainment has condemned the alleged harassment and threats made towards employees, issuing a statement emphasizing that the company has ‘zero tolerance’ for this kind of abuse.
The statement came in the all too familiar white-text-on-a-black-background image, typically reserved for the most somber of announcements. “Recently, we have seen increased harassment towards members of our development team,” Respawn Entertainment opened.
“We welcome community input, however, the line between constructive feedback and the harassment of our dev team cannot be crossed,” Respawn Entertainment emphasized. “We want to remind out players we have a zero tolerance policy for threats and the harassment of our developers. We will take appropriate action to ensure the health and safety of our team.”
“We love hearing feedback and will continue to work alongside our community to foster a respectful, collaborative environment, and uphold the competitive integrity of our game,” the Apex Legends developer concluded.
What inspired the alleged outcry was not elaborated upon, though other news outlets have speculated. Gamespot reported Respawn Entertainment hosted two “Ask Me Anything” threads on Reddit, noting that despite some “rude comments” which escaped the moderators, the developers responded politely.
Comments such as a “What’s the point of doing an AMA when you only respond to the softball questions?“, or how the new Gun Run mode “is probably the worst game type or honestly out of everything that your team could have done. You have all failed us as fans once again. I hope you all feel the shame,” can be found in the AMA thread.
Some users also felt the developers wouldn’t reply to most questions. Apart from some coarse language, most negative discourse seems to have received only a few downvotes, nor any outright threats. Gamespot also proposed the gold knockdown shield’s self-revival ability being removed in a recent patch or other controversial gameplay changes may have drawn ire.
Dexerto proposed the harassment may have been caused by professional Apex Legends player Jacob “HisWattson” McMillin. While had never been shy about sharing his critique of the game in the past, McMillin had recently complained that Respawn Entertainment’s “security team” didn’t work weekends, leaving him unable to stream the game.
A hacker and leaker within the Apex Legends community then revealed McMillin had contacted him. He asked if they “might know what’s going if it’s malicious.” The hacker reportedly stated he should ask Respawn Entertainment Security Analyst Conor “Hideouts” Ford. ““I hate hideouts too and I want to clown him on Twitter,” McMillin replied.
After the messages were exposed, McMillin reportedly tweeted (and later deleted) “All of what I said is public information.1 I hate EA.2 I hate hideouts (but i usually only go after him specifically when he says something first)3 I dont report cheatersi [sic] messaged him because i figured he knew what was happening to my acc (he literally admits to doing it).”
This would suggest the hacker had knowledge or was even involved in the attacks against McMillin’s streams.
In the past, Respawn Entertainment had drawn ire for Titanfall being left at the wayside, beset with server issues and DDOS attacks. Some even went as far as to hack Apex Legends last year. Titanfall was delisted five months later.
2019 would also see a Repsawn Entertainment developer bite back at fans. A limited time event demanded fans spent at least $160 in microtransactions and lootboxes to acquire an exceptionally rare weapon skin. Despite changes made, fans were still outraged, feeling it was not good enough.
This lead to one developer responding what they felt was in-kind. Comments ranged from “we will not engage with temper tantrums, and personal attacks or virtriolic threads are completely unacceptable,” to “I’ve been in the industry long enough to remember when players weren’t complete ass-hats to developers and it was pretty neat.”
CEO Vince Zampella later apologized that “Some of our folks crossed a line with their comments, and that’s not how we want Respawn to be represented.” He added “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.