Respawn Entertainment needs to take criticism
Respawn Entertainment, a game development studio operating under EA, cried foul at some criticism they received for a new event they had implemented in one of their most popular games. They claimed the backlash was overly harsh and the fans went too far, but the developers couldn’t have been more wrong.
The fans’ reactions were in the right, as the practices displayed in the game were unjustifiably greedy.
On Aug. 13, “Apex Legends,” a free-to-play, micro-transaction fueled game by Respawn Entertainment, began an event called the Iron Crown. As per tradition, its players could participate in a number of new modes and obtain new, event-exclusive, in-game items. Most of the attention regarding the matter, however, was directed at the means of obtaining the new loot: exclusively, through ludicrously-priced loot boxes, only two of which could be obtained for free.
This is blatantly greedy and consumer-unfriendly. It feels like a betrayal when considering previous statements made by those at Respawn Entertainment, where they promised all of their loot could be obtained fairly and ethically.
Anybody who has kept up with any amount of gaming-related news in the past year probably would have predicted fans wouldn’t react well to this — and they didn’t. In an effort to assuage their player base, Respawn announced a fix to the system, allowing players to manually purchase the items they wanted, which came with its own problems.
And it was an absolute dumpster fire.
The subreddit users voiced their grievances with the Iron Crown event and its loot box issues. The developers’ comments in the thread were rife with passive-aggressive, snark and defensive comments, even after their apology. They even went so far as to curse at their fans and call them derogatory names, behaving much like the common forum users they were interacting with.
One of the developers commented on what he has perceived as a change in the gaming community in the thread. He said the relationship between developer and player has degraded, and what used to be an awesome, fun relationship has become akin to someone attempting to please an angry mob. Was he justified in this opinion?
Well, to put it bluntly, no. Plenty of gaming sub-communities are bastions of positivity, especially those surrounding indie games. Respawn earned the backlash through their actions regarding the event.
The fan outcry should have been, as stated earlier, expected. Loot boxes and other greedy tactics have been a hot-button topic in the gaming community recently. This, compounded with the fact that EA has a terrible reputation and the childish response Respawn provided, should have at least led them to expect what happened.
The games-as-a-service model has become increasingly popular, with free-to-play titles such as “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” and “Fortnite” blazing the trail and game streaming services, such as Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass, following close behind.
Many gamers reject the idea the system represents, especially denouncing the potential for an end of game ownership. The circumstances surrounding the “Apex Legends” Iron Crown event should be viewed as yet another warning for what’s to come.
Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time a situation of this nature arises, but hopefully Respawn learned something. Their practices, and others like them, deserve to be called out. Given their less-than-stellar reception to the criticism, however, one would have to doubt that substantial changes are due in the near future.
Opinion writer Kyle Dishongh is a finance junior and can be reached at [email protected].com