Bungie faced some backlash following the release of Destiny 2 in 2017, the long-awaited sequel to 2014's Destiny. The developer landed in hot water by blocking previously available content behind new DLC. Destiny 2's Nightfall and Raid events contained a special difficulty mode called the Prestige, which required players to be a certain Power Level before selecting the challenge. Everything was fine until the game's first DLC came out.
When Bungie released the Curse of Osiris DLC, they increased the requisite Power Levels for each Prestige variant for both events along with the increase in the game's level cap. The Raid required players to be a Power Level of 270, whereas the Nightfall was bumped to 330 (a level vanilla players couldn't obtain). That didn't sit well with fans. Bungie formally apologized for the lockout less than one week after the news broke, and they remedied the matter by revising the trophies and achievements players were blocked from getting, but they didn't lower the requisite Power Levels.
As if that wasn't enough, Bungie also faced some backlash for rigging the post-game XP system players used to get Bright Engrams. By continually reducing the speed in which players earn XP after hitting the game's soft level cap, the developer effectively encouraged players to pay real-money, via microtransactions, to obtain Bright Engrams. While they didn't formally apologize for rigging the XP system, they did "fix" the issue. So, at least that's something.
Epic Games' co-op sandbox title, Fortnite, entered Early Access in July 2017, with the developer and publisher planning a full-fledged free-to-play release sometime in 2018. The game became famous for its standalone Battle Royale mode that released in September 2017, but before that released, players spent hours building forts, and all their hard work just disappeared one day. An Early Access patch made changes to the Plankerton, Canny Valley or Twine maps that caused players' forts to disappear. While players' resources were eventually replenished, the time they spent building those forts were all for naught.
To make matters worse, Epic Games didn't announce the change in advance. And so, they issued a very candid apology: "Ok first we messed up in missing a HUGE part of our patch notes. I apologize. We understand how much time you have invested in building your Storm Shield base, it’s your home, your defense, your vision, we feel that way too." They also vowed to be more transparent in the future.
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Middle-Earth: Shadow of War, Monolith Productions' sequel to 2014's Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, was heralded by many, despite its blatant prolongation of Act 4, which encourages players to purchase microtransactions to obtain the game's true ending. But publisher Warner Bros. Interactive didn't face outrage until they decided to charge players (in some regions) for Shadow of War's Forthog DLC, which was created to memorialize developer Michael Forgey, who passed away from a brain tumor at the age of 43 in 2016.
Monolith and Warners explained the reasoning behind charging for the DLC, saying all the proceeds were going to be donated to the Forgey family even though the fine print suggested otherwise, and they planned on promoting the donation only in the U.S., excluding certain states due to their charitable promotion laws. In response, all players who purchased the DLC were refunded and the content was made free, with Warner Bros. Interactive promising to donate to the Forgey family anyway.
Star Wars Battlefront II
The most infamous apology of the year - and perhaps of the decade - came from EA just one week prior to DICE's Star Wars Battlefront II hitting store shelves. An EA Access user noted that it took him approximately 40 hours to earn enough credits to unlock Darth Vader. The same user later posted his findings on Reddit upon further research, which sparked a worldwide controversy that decimated Battlefront II's chances of becoming the biggest game of the season.
EA quickly responded to controversy and attempted to alleviate concerns by vaguely explaining how the game works. Well, that didn't work. The publisher's response, though attempting to come from the right place (at least from their perspective), earned unanimous disapproval. The statement is now the most downvoted post in Reddit history. In fact, the line, "sense of pride and accomplishment," is continuously quoted in various circumstances on social media. EA might not be able to shake that off for quite some time.
While the game is still flawed in many ways, EA has since reduced the cost to unlock certain Heroes and removed the game's microtransactions, but they reserve the right to re-implement them at a later time. By doing so, they would effectively be returning to the blatant pay-to-win scenario that landed them in hot water in the first place.