Players appear to be frustrated with skins they claim aren’t worth the money.
Apex enthusiasts on social media are becoming unhappy about the free-to-play battle royale’s business scheme. As Apex nears $1 billion in annual sales, irritated players keep complaining about what they perceive to be outrageous costs for the game’s virtual clothes, picking at the scabs of an ongoing struggle between those who spend money on the massively successful game and those who profit from it.
In the images attached, a popular Reddit post from this weekend with nearly 12,000 upvotes demonstrates the difference between two Caustic skins. On the left is a free “Rare” skin from Season Three, and on the right is a newer “Epic” (one tier above “Rare”) skin that costs 1,000 Apex coins, or around $10.
It may not be to everyone’s liking, but the free “Rare” skin is clearly more distinct than the allegedly $10 skin. Everyone can agree that ice hands are unique and cool, and the look undoubtedly attracts attention that the more pricey skin does not.
Although Apex is available for free, fashion in the Outlands has never been affordable. A little item like a charm, the virtual trinkets that dangle enticingly on weapons like an earring, could cost 500 Apex Coins, which is nearly $5. A trendy and one-of-a-kind “Legendary” costume costs $18, while a “Heirloom” weapon, such as Bloodhound’s axe or Pathfinder’s boxing gloves, costs roughly $150.
Another previous Reddit post called for real adjustments to the monetization structure of Apex’s virtual clothing, as well as an AMA with the pricing team.
“You’ve been charging us $10 for skins that were only $5,” a Reddit member complained. “This appears to be exceedingly greedy, immoral, and obviously price gouging.”
The new pricing is not, in any conceivable sense, overcharging, and EA is under no responsibility to supply cheap virtual items to customers––just as gamers are under no obligation to purchase them. But that doesn’t make things any better for the players.
Since the game’s release, Apex players have been disappointed and perplexed by the pricing structure of these optional aesthetic goods. In 2019, the Iron Crown event in Season Two arbitrarily raised the price of treasure packs and locked unique goods behind them. Angry fans took to social media to rant, and the ensuing feud between Respawn employees and their most vocal critics resulted in a public blog post detailing the company’s commitment to do better with the way it handles communications about loot and cosmetics, as well as a Twitter apology from Respawn CEO Vince Zampella.
Because the game is free to play, cosmetic monetization will always be an important aspect of Apex’s financial success. However, it is unclear whether Respawn learned any long-term lessons from the Iron Crown controversy two years later.
The firm must tread a careful line between delighting EA shareholders with the game’s tremendous profits and preventing the Apex community from mutinying over concerns such as these. Finally, it’s easier to pay lip service to openness in cosmetics pricing than it is to embark on the onerous, if not impossible, the task of explaining why these virtual goods must be so pricey.