In a move that has surprised some players, but not many, Respawn Entertainment launched a large update recently in Apex Legends that is one of the priciest and least accessible when it comes to acquiring cosmetics. The Iron Crown event is only available for a limited time and introduces new, exclusive cosmetic items.
The most prominent issue appears to be the pricing and availability of the Iron Crown event packs. For the unfamiliar, players require a total of 700 Apex Coins in order to open a single Iron Crown pack, which costs roughly $7 in real-world money. Since there are a total of 24 Iron Crown packs, and only two can be earned by playing the game, players will need to drop about $154 to acquire everything.
More importantly, players are upset that they cannot choose the items they receive. Everything is locked in such a way that the items are randomized and players only discover what they are after purchase. This is the type of mechanic that some compare to gambling, where consumers are manipulated into spending far more than they first intended in order to get the one item they desire.
Over on Reddit, the list of grievances is quite long and can be read here.
One of the most common defenses that one may hear in an attempt to justify these manipulative practices is that as Apex Legends is a free game and the developer needs to earn revenue somehow. This is not incorrect, but there are clear examples of other free games that do not resort to this manner of loot box mechanics, namely Epic Games' Fortnite.
In Fortnite, the cost to acquire every skin is likely far higher than in Apex Legends. However, by providing quality items in each season pass and by making each cosmetic item available in the shop without any randomization involved, players remain satisfied.
If there were any doubt about the success of the Fortnite model, one need only look to see that the game is on track to bring in $3.5 billion this year.
Apex Legends has already been in a delicate position in the past few months, as consumers were already disappointed with the first season of the game. With these prices, it seems like Respawn might soon lose the few dedicated players who remain.