Rant: The Industry Makes Its Contempt For Consumers Public Once Again

I have to be honest with you folks: The AAA gaming industry has become such a contemptuous ball of greasy slime that I frankly no longer find it believable when companies do shady things and chalk it all up to human error.

I’ve spent the better part of the last six years shouting to the high heavens about how the gaming industry, specifically the AAA sector, has been meticulously and in many ways purposely building an increasingly hostile and bitter relationship with consumers. We’re talking about an industry that brings psychologists on board so they can figure out better ways to subtly manipulate people into spending more money than ever, an industry that is building massive databases of information and artificial intelligence so they can low-key manipulate your behavior all in the name of selling microtransactions. One where companies deliberately introduce problems in order to sell you the solution, where they can use every dirty tactic to get you to pay exponentially more for exponentially less.

Let’s talk about how Respawn is the latest developer to acquire EA’s venom for the public.

All of this hubbub began when Apex Legends released its latest update introducing solo mode and the Iron Crown loot box. The Iron Crown box is special because it costs $7 as opposed to $1 for the normal box, and contains limited time items that will only be available until the event ends on August 27. There are 24 items in the box and you can obtain two boxes by completing challenges. Nothing in the boxes could be bought directly, and you are guaranteed no duplicates. So all in all, you’re looking at being required (as there is no other way to get these items) to spend $140 USD to get everything.

I say required because Respawn is using the tactic where they know fully well that they are pushing this for completionists in the hopes that many will buy the whole set, while giving themselves the plausible deniability of “it’s all optional.” It leads into the Bloodhound’s Raven’s Bite axe, an item that must be purchased directly but can only be purchased once you buy all 24 items, and it costs 3,500 coins. All in all, you’ll need to spend at least $170 in bulk if you want these items. There’s greedy and then there is Electronic Arts greedy.

Naturally the community went in an uproar over the update because consumers don’t like being fleeced, and Respawn’s apology didn’t do a whole lot to assuage criticism by taking the loot box items and placing the skins on the store for individual purchase at $18 a pop.

“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.”

An EA subsidiary not trying to bleed its customers dry? Sorry, I don’t buy it.

The folks at Respawn aren’t that stupid that they built up this very obvious and blatantly greedy cash event and had absolutely no idea how egregious it would be. Because the overall corporate structure at Respawn doesn’t give a damn if you’re unhappy with the product, just shut your stupid peasant mouth and open up that wallet to give them more money. This is a free to play game, you ungrateful putz, that means that instead of giving $60 up front for a few years of entertainment, you agree to spend hundreds of dollars over the course of a couple of weeks while shutting your trap and not questioning any of the business decisions that are made for you.

But it wouldn’t quite be a rant if I didn’t show you the absolute contempt that some of the Respawn devs have for their players, such as Drew McCoy who took to Reddit to call gamers “dicks” and freeloaders. This is what happens when bullshysters are called out on their schemes, they immediately go on the attack in order to hopefully divert attention away from why people are angry in the first place.

“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.”

“I think technically I was calling gamers dicks? I dunno. I had a spicy lunch, feelin’ it.”

“There is a wealth of data available on how monetization works in free-to-play games, and we ourselves have run tests by putting skins on sale in the store. The amount of people who spend is crazy low, most of ya’ll are freeloaders (and we love that!) and a change in price doesn’t move the needle.”

Drew goes on to act like the changes are because Respawn is such a benevolent overlord and honestly you freeloaders should be happy that they put the game out for free and are so magnanimous and charitable. Sure, Apex Legends released for free because selling it at a box price would be a financial disaster since the competition is free, and the whole point of releasing free to play is to forego a consistent amount of money up front distributed among 100% of the community in favor of the 15-20% of the community fronting more money and those free players adding more traffic to the servers so those paying players stay more engaged and end up spending hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over its lifespan. As opposed to $60 plus maybe some small cosmetic purchases.

Stop asking questions and buy more product.

“Jeez, whats with the conspiracy theories? This event has been quite the success, and I can’t say that any clearer. We’re making changes that will most likely reduce revenue, but we’re doing it because its the right thing to do.”

Nobody tell Jayfresh that he can help avoid being called a liar by not being a liar.

But Respawn’s inability to handle criticism for its anti-consumer business practices is par for the course in the Electronic Arts family and follows in line from the “pride and accomplishment” statement regarding Battlefront II loot boxes to former CEO Patrick Soderlund telling customers that he doesn’t care if they don’t buy Battlefield. Apex Legends is stupidly successful right now, but I’m going to go back to what I said ten years ago: The model is only successful until it isn’t, and the gaming community turns on a dime with games going from overnight successes to overnight abandoned warehouses…overnight. The industry doesn’t turn that fast, and Respawn is

Sure, the developers at Respawn probably think they are invincible right now, but let’s keep one thing in mind: You work for Electronic Arts, a giant with a graveyard larger than a prepubescent Sims player who knows how to remove the pool ladder. Titanfall 2 sold below expectations and Mass Effect took only one game to go from massive success to studio-closing failure.

Game companies are not your friends, I can’t express that statement enough. They aren’t your buds, they don’t have your best interest in mind, and they will turn on you at a moment’s notice.

Otherwise I have no opinion on the matter. Oh, one more note:

“I’ve been in the industry long enough to remember when players weren’t complete ass-hats to developers and it was pretty neat,”

Dear Drew, that era was back when developers like yourself weren’t releasing $200 cosmetic events and formulating your game as cynical slot machines designed to get kids to spend as much of their parent’s money as humanly possible.

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