At a time when in-game purchases are under increasing scrutiny and the games industry is on the verge of regulating loot boxes, Apex Legends seems to be embracing the worst of several kinds of monetization, effectively asking players to plunk down $170 for its newest rare cosmetic item, a weapon skin called Raven’s Bite. The pricey skin can only be acquired by first purchasing a full set of different cosmetics, then paying for the top-tier cosmetic itself.
Apex Legends added the questionable cosmetics as part of a new event called Iron Crown. The event comes in the middle of the game’s Season 2 content, but feels expansive enough to be a mini-season of its own. The update adds new challenges, a solo mode, a new area of the Kings Canyon map, and a set of new skins, including the controversial Raven’s Bite. On top of all that, it also adds a new currency called Crowns, but a store where players can spend them, adding another layer of confusion to the event’s already complicated monetization.
While the update adds plenty of interesting new content, the cosmetics are getting the most attention. Iron Crown adds 24 cosmetic items, half of which are Epic and half of which are Legendary quality. The only way to acquire these items is by purchasing Iron Crown packs, each of which is guaranteed to contain one Iron Crown cosmetic. The Raven’s Bite, however, can’t be found in an Iron Crown pack. It has to be purchased directly from the store, but only players who already have the full Iron Crown set are given that privilege. Iron Crown packs cost a whopping 700 Apex coins apiece, which works out to about $7 for a single pack, not accounting for the bulk discounts offered on large coin purchases (compared to $1 for standard Apex packs). The Raven’s Bite itself costs 3500 coins, or around $35. According to PC Gamer, that puts the minimum amount players would have to spend to get the Raven’s Bite at $170, assuming they buy large packs of coins for a discount and get the two free Iron Crown packs that are available for completing challenges.
It’s odd timing for Apex Legends to add such an aggressive monetization push to its game. A recent FTC panel raised questions over whether the games industry could be trusted to regulate itself, even after some of the largest game makers out there pledged to do away with random items in loot boxes, or at least disclose their odds. Particular attention is being focused on free-to-play games, such as Apex Legends and Fortnite, due to their accessibility to children.
Free-to-play games need to make money like any other game to keep operating, and there are surely people who can justify spending $170 on a game with effectively infinite replayability. However, pricing items out of the reach of most players could easily backfire, stirring up anger in the game’s community and making players who can’t afford to shell out nearly the price of three new games on skins feel like second-class citizens. As soon as the update to Apex Legends went live, in fact, players took to social media to express their anger.
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Source: PC Gamer