The CEO of Respawn Entertainment was forced to take to Twitter yesterday to apologize for comments made by developers of Apex Legends in the game's Reddit community following the recent Iron Crown event changes. Apex Legends is a free-to-play battle royale game that released in February of this year and quickly gained a massive following due to the tight gameplay that Respawn previously honed in their Titanfall series, but lately has been on the receiving end of much criticism for its excessive use of microtransactions.
Like other battle royales, Apex Legends periodically has events that change up the topography of the map and add new items and skins for players to unlock, as well as adding new modes like solo play. After the latest of these updates, Iron Crown, players quickly realized that a majority of the new items on display would only be unlockable after a considerable amount of grinding and extensive loot box searching. The Apex community was angered by this and took their complaints to Respawn, who at first handled the situation properly by apologizing and promising to do better moving forward, going as far as to say that future events will contain other ways to obtain the unique items besides just purchasing Apex packs. After players continued to berate them, however, developers began to lose their cool.
"I've been in the industry long enough to remember when players weren't complete ass-hats to developers," one Respawn employee with the Reddit handle dko5 said. "Would be awesome to get back there, and not engaging with toxic people." According to ComicBook, even Respawn's community manager Jayfresh_Respawn had enough of the vitriol, stating that it was hypocritical of players to be angry at developers calling them out on their own anger since they so often resorted to personal attacks. These responses only made players angrier, and Respawn's CEO Vince Zampella took to Twitter to clarify the studio's stance:
Responses to Zampella's statement since have been extremely mixed, with some of the angrier fans calling for dko5's termination from the company and other praising Respawn for standing up to what they deem a toxic fanbase. A number of replies state that apologizing for shady microtransactions and then releasing a single skin for $20 was in itself hypocritical, and while many fans seem to think Respawn did nothing wrong a number of people have loudly stated that they are now officially done with the game.
While the Reddit statements from Respawn Entertainment developers are far from the professional attitude normally associated with large companies, it's hard not to feel sympathetic for anyone who has to deal one-on-one with large, vocal fanbases. Apex Legends is a free-to-play game, and with that unpaid entry point comes a need to supplement income in some other manner, otherwise there would be no way to pay the developers and, by extension, no game at all. Although the exact implementation of these microtransactions is still a long way from perfect, resorting to angry tirades and personal threats on message boards is not the way to make progress, and at least players aren't seeing as many cheaters anymore.