Apex Legends Player Spent $700 To Unlock A Rare Item, Says 'It Wasn't Worth It'

Screenshot: kylew205

If you’re lucky, opening a loot box in Apex Legends might get you a set of “heirloom” items. These are ultra rare cosmetic items with a less than one per cent chance of dropping, though you’re guaranteed to get one after 500 boxes. One player ended up paying $US500 ($704) to go through 500 boxes in the hopes of getting the illusive items. Now that he has them, he doesn’t feel as though it was worth it.

Cole is a 24-year-old who says he’s been gaming all his life. He isn’t a stranger to microtransactions in many of their forms, including loot boxes.

This story was republished by a surprise in our CMS, having first appeared in February 2019.

Cole told Kotaku over Reddit private messages that before Apex Legends, he was playing Fortnite. In a post that’s now been removed from the Apex Legends subreddit — though lives on in a cached version on Google — Cole wrote that he played Overwatch and Rocket League as well.

“These games didn’t tempt me into ludicrous spending. In my many hours in both games I probably spent less than $30 [$AU42] total,” he wrote. “I’ve never had much luck when it comes to loot boxes and despite wanting the items inside, I knew the maths behind it and wasn’t going to throw my money around chasing the carrot on a stick.”

Yet Cole ended up spending $US500 ($704) on Apex Legends loot boxes in order to find the heirloom items. The items are for Wraith, and he’s a Wraith main. He knew that if he opened 500 boxes, he’d definitely get the heirlooms.

According to the Apex Legends FAQ, “When a player opens an Apex Pack, there is a <1% probability of an Heirloom Set dropping. Heirloom Set drops do not deduct an Apex Pack from your inventory. … A player cannot open more than 500 Apex Packs without receiving an Heirloom set (assuming the player does not own all of the available Heirloom Sets).”

The guarantee of eventually getting the set was what sent Cole on a spending spree.

“Once I bought my first bundle my brain became wired in a way that I wasn’t going to stop until I got the heirlooms,” Cole told Kotaku.

“The feeling of going box to box wasn’t even enjoyable. … As I opened more and more crates, I would move on to the next crate and skip over the new items I got entirely if I knew it wasn’t the heirlooms. Not even unboxing the rare legendaries items excited me.”

Concept art for Wraith, the only character with an Heirloom set so far. (Illustration: Apex Legends, Respawn Entertainment)

Cole did get the heirloom items, but later wrote on Reddit that the experience “wasn’t worth it”. He knew that if he told people how much money he spent, they’d call him “irresponsible” or an “idiot”. He told Kotaku that he took to Reddit to make fun of himself a bit, and also warn people not to let the hunt for heirloom items get to your head.

The post ends with an invitation to roast Cole if you want to, but he also says that he hopes his post will “maybe help prevent someone from doing the same thing I did”. He still kind of can’t believe he did it.

“To be honest, best way to describe how I feel after spending the $US500 ($704) would probably be in ‘shock’,” he said.

“I’ve definitely made some ill advised purchases in the past on different things not gaming related but there’s just something different about spending so much on a random chance at virtual items that hold no real value to most people, you know?”

Cole isn’t sure that loot boxes are immoral, per se, but after this experience and reading the experiences of others, he has a more rounded picture of what the problems with loot boxes can be. In Reddit private messages, he likened them to gambling.

“Are they potentially anti-consumer and predatory? Maybe. Is gambling in general immoral? It’s a tough question,” he said.

“Many people love to gamble and many do it responsibly. It can be a fun activity when done in moderation. Free to play games need to make money in someway and loot boxes offer that. On the other hand, many other free to play games thrive without the addition of controversial loot boxes.”

As a former Fortnite player, Cole said that his ideal way to monetise Apex would be similar to its battle royale brethren — having an item store where you can buy individual cosmetic items instead of having loot boxes. But he also doesn’t see any reason for Respawn to change the way they’ve monetised the game.

“Respawn and EA would have made much less money from me personally if I could buy the heirlooms outright for say $30 [$AU42] rather than gamble on crates and end up spending $500 [AU$704] like I did,” he said. “I know my story is not unique.”


Comments

    What a surprise!

      Ikr. Is this really a headline? Sure, loot boxes are designed to rake in money. Yes, they can trigger a compulsive response in some individuals. Yes, learning impulse control is important in an age when capitolist ventures prey on inherently irresponsible consumer compulsion. I mean, jesus, I've probably spent 100s of dollars on cinema popcorn, that costs next to nothing to make, over the course of my life simply because some guy upsells me at the counter.

        Wait, do you not know what kind of popcorn you are going to get when you buy it?

          Whether loot boxes are gambling or exploitative is a whole different discussion. I'm here to make passing observations on broad consumerist trends. I mean, if we're talking about using 'gambling' to sell products, there was a big craze in the 80s and 90s of putting limited edition items or prizes in boxes to sell products. And it worked. I can't count the number of boxes of cereal I made my mum buy to get unknown quantifiers. The difference being that loot boxes are a) popular now and b) more lucrative financially.

          If you have an ethical or moral objection to loot boxes, feel free to take it up with your local rotary club. Or reddit.

        And to think, when I buy a medium popcorn and someone trust to upsize, I usually change my mind and get a small instead ....

      I thought your comment was a really clever reference to EA today calling lootboxes "Suprise Mechanics" then I realised this is a repost from Feb that just happens to be brilliant.

    It seems like he just desensitized himself to the thrill of gambling, so it may turn out to have been a worthwhile investment given he was the kind of person to *spend $700 to get a cosmetic item!*.

    " I knew the maths behind it and wasn’t going to throw my money around chasing the carrot on a stick.”

    Proceeds to then throw his money around chasing said carrot

    Actually pathetic.

      Downvote away. But blowing 700 bucks on trash and you're pathetic.

        I'm assuming you've never heard the phrase 'One man's trash is another man's treasure'?

        I know people that think blowing $700 on a GPU is a massive waste of money, and others that would say it's the best way to spend $700. My brother is totally into cars - he has spent thousand and thousands of dollars modifying and beefing up his car. I think it's a waste of money because I'm not a car guy, but he thinks it's worth every cent. Likewise, I know people that have spent $10,000+ on trips to remote areas, or a guy that took 6 months off work and spent a ton of cash to cycle across the US.

        At the end of the day, people are going to spend their money doing what makes them happy. The only pathetic idiot here is you, for thinking your definition of living life is the only one that's right.

          I don't like fucking skiing mate, but if someone drops 2 grand on a pair I don't care because it's their thing they enjoy it.
          This guy blew 700 bucks on a gambling cosmetic and regretted it. It's so beyond stupid it's amazing.

            You should go watch some documentaries on addiction and gambling.

              I have. And that doesn't stop people's own accountability for their actions. It doesn't absolve you of an action that is actually pretty "loser-y".
              It also doesn't stop me thinking that yeah of course these people need help and that of course they deserve that.

            I don't like fucking skiing mate, but if someone drops 2 grand on a pair I don't care because it's their thing they enjoy it.

            So, if they dropped $2,000 bucks on skis and they regretted it because the skis weren't as good as they initially thought, they'd also be pathetic?

            What about if the guy dropped $700 on the cosmetics and loved the shit out of them. Like, every time he fired the game up and saw the flashy cosmetics he got a smile on his face. Would that be pathetic then?

            I've spent real money on cosmetics for heroes I played a lot in Dota 2. I liked them because they looked cool in-game, and had some cool effects that weren't very common. Do I regret it? Hell no - I've dropped several thousand hours in the game, and even if you took the total I've spent across all in-game items in the 10+ years I've played, I still get far more bang for my buck than virtually any other game I've played.

            To each their own. He made a big purchase that didn't pan out like he'd expected - it happens to the best of us. To call him pathetic for that - simply because he sees value in something you don't - is a bit much.

          It didn't make him happy though, that's the point, he regretted spending all that money and getting sucked into the trap (gamblers regret). And is now urging others not to make the same mistake.

            Moderation hell.

            Last edited 26/02/19 1:52 am

    700 bucks spent on a game wasn't worth it... and people are shocked by this?

    Brace the bulkheads for when Star Citizen hits and the people who spent thousands finally realise this too...

      To be fair, if I'd spent $700 to play Dota 2, I'd still be getting more bang for my buck than most other games I play.

        Indeed, that's a fair point. I've gotten 3000+ hours out of Ark. Not a single other game has gotten that out of me. I've donated to a few servers, I'd say in my time I've spent probably 300 bucks total on Ark. I don't feel I've wasted a cent.

      I know what you're saying, and agree wholeheartedly, but then I remember I was paying a sub for Everquest for about 10 years, which would have comfortably been a couple of grand in total. At some point the single game sub morphed into a gamepass sub for their whole library, which I kept paying even after I stopped.

      Others were playing one of the games on my account, and there were a few I liked to drop in and play on occasion. And I could afford it. I did get over 7 years out of just EQ so definitely got my money's worth.

      This on the other hand is so opposite of that its not remotely funny. He knew the math, still paid the money, and not amazingly regretted it. That's on him though, not the game. It was open about the chances.

        I think 'mostly' on him, but there's enough blame to go around due to the predatory nature of these sorts of game and their 'odds' preying on the risk vs reward nature of things. But noone forced him to spend that much, that's for sure.

          Yeah, no argument on that. Theres definitely enough blame to go around, and it should be spread. In this case, the bulk goes on the guy. He knows that and readily accepts it as well. His story is just a cautionary tale, and frankly, nothing earth shattering. Personally, I think almost all of it should be on him here, this is a free game after all and its entitled to make a profit.

          My main gripe with this whole lootbox thing is twofold. One, people are quick to lay blame on one side of the transaction and not the other, and two, I worry that any changes will screw it all up.

          People seem comfortable blaming the faceless corporation, and not recognising that the person making the choice is also a very big player in this. Choices have consequences, and unless that person is willing to face up to them and get any help needed, they wont learn from them.

          This guy is well aware of all that though. He doesnt appear to have any gambling problem, but his desire to get something uncommon meant he spent more than what most people would consider OK, and he shared the tale. In that choice, he showed gambling traits, but I still dont see that he has a problem that needs help. Just like someone able to put $50 into the pokies, or lotto, and leave it at that.

          Gambling itself isnt a problem, we do it every day, as per my other milk comment (thanks for the chuckle by the way. Tell me more about that 4-1...), its only when it causes other issues in your life that you need to step back and re-evaluate your actions. And get help if you need to.

          Anyway, ranting. This is such a loaded topic, and really overall I just worry that its going to get fucked up. If people read my intent the wrong way, so be it, but I've seen enough of it, and balanced my own enjoyment of the punt to know that the individual is as big a part of the problem as the enticement.

          If I dont make the choice though, the setup is meaningless.

            I agree with absolutely everything you said. I think Epic has gone even further than most with its absolute transparency and honesty in chances. Also respect to them keeping it all cosmetic. The fact you can play a level game with everyone for free is ultra rare.

            The milk...

            Well.

            We won't speak of the milk...

            Or the chunks :(

            It may have actually expired 5 days ago it seems...

              I agree with absolutely everything you said. I think Epic has gone even further than most with its absolute transparency and honesty in chances. And yet people are still screaming that its not enough.
              Also respect to them keeping it all cosmetic. Exactly. This is purely about cosmetics, and the social standing someone feels they get for having that rare item. No pay to win, which is where the original lootbox argument started, just some shinies to make their dolly prettier.

              And yet people are still screaming that its not enough.

              The fact you can play a level game with everyone for free is ultra rare.
              Something forgotten in this article. Its a free game, this is their revenue source.

              No more on the milk...

    You can't throw words around like 'immoral' when it comes to loot boxes, let these people part with their money, it's their choice. The Apex Legends implementation is one of the best, most open and least predatory to date.

      least predatory

      Fully get what your saying I just kinda love the irrelevance of it outta context.

      Actually you can.
      Go watch some documentaries on addiction and gambling.

      most open and least predatory to date.
      umm that doesn't mean it is 'good'.

      I'm enjoying Apex, but the cost of items is ridiculous. I don't care about them very much, however if they were reasonably priced - say $2 per skin/small pack of banners - then I would buy a bunch just to support the game.

      You absolutely can throw around the words. It is an immoral practice, but it's *also* stupid to go spending such an amount. The actions of one do not preclude the other from being immoral. It's just that simple. As far as being 'least predatory', I call bullshit.

      It's one of the 'better' ones, it advertises its odds up front (likely purely because a number of countries demand this legally now I believe?), and doesn't charge the ends of the earth for lootboxes, and keeps it purely cosmetic items. However, it would be nice to see some rejigging of the price system to stop the encouragement of 'follow up purchases' for items, i.e. you can buy 1000 coin packs, but item costs 1100! Sorry, buy one more coin pack to afford or go to next tier! That's a shady practice. A better option tbh, would be some sort of slider option, buy X amount of coins and have it calculate your purchase price based on that perhaps. X * Y = Price + % discount based on how many purchased perhaps.

      It's good however that everything *is* at this point, purely cosmetic, but those shady practices of the 'follow up purchases' and 'prompting to 2nd tier' purchases which are very common. It's not the worst one out there, but by no means at all, is Apex the best.

      I'm not really what else to call targeted manipulation of addictive personalities.

        Just call it marketing. Look at the amount of crap people buy because they "think" they need it.

    He spent $700 for a cosmetic item...
    Of course it wasn't going to be worth it!
    Did the math? Well maybe hr should have done the common sense instead!

    Incidentally, interesting anecdote for people here to consider. I was at the races today, I'm 41 and I've never been to the ponies before. So I went for a friends birthday. We sat at a table at Eagle Farm, here in Brisbane earlier today, from 10.30 til 2, for 'Ladies Day', it was her birthday, with a bunch of friends. We all deal with kids day in and day out and the conversation turned inevitably to the new game enamouring kids, Apex. "Those kids are all playing that new Apex" one of us said "Wonder how much the dumbasses are spending on it now?" another said as she entered a 30 dollar two way bet (15 each way) and promptly lost her cash. Another said "Those games are such a waste of money, I don't get why they throw their money away on them?" as she pumped over a hundred freaking dollars into a single bet and lost it all. One of us celebrated as she won 200 dollars, after losing around 300.

    Another of us was playing safe, only betting 1 or 2 bucks at a time, winning here and there, having a safe time. I myself only threw away 20 bucks for the day today, I've never bet on horses before and figured eh why not, first time for it all.

    Point is, I found it interesting to see adults sit around cursing the games they didn't understand, slamming the transactions in the game as ridiculous, overpriced and stupid, then throwing money away on Sportsbet apps and not even thinking about it...

    We wonder where kids learn this behaviour huh?

      Awesome anecdote, and a great analogy!

        Thanks :)

        Incidentally I found horse racing a huge waste of time and cannot see myself ever doing it again :)

          I also do not understand horse racing.

            Although I DID spend the 20 bucks voluntarily, I sat right here in my chair that night thinking "That could've bought my son the Apex battlepass probably..."

            Oh how ironic. lol.

      Good comment. The only nit I'd pick is that I don't think the behaviour is as much learned as it is inherent. Humans have a weakness when it comes to self-control and delayed gratification. Most people can overcome the weakness, but some can't, and we all tend to have lapses now and then.

        Risk versus reward is a survival instinct ingrained in most animals. So as you say, inherent. Where you calculate the reward to not be worth the risk, you should flee. Where you calculate the reward to be worth the risk, you might take that risk. Its a very natural part of surviving.

        Our problem is the sentience we have that allows us to ignore the risk versus reward part when we shouldn't. So then we take unnecessary gambles. I see it every time I play a poker tournament. I know the odds well enough that I consistently get results, when others refuse to learn some pretty basic things and apply them - goolge 'poker rule of 4 and 2', its not hard. Then they get angry when I do, and win.

        We have the option of choosing to ignore that survival instinct, and that's the root cause of this. @weresmurf 's story is another example of that, where they see the flaw in others, but not themselves.

        We have this amazing ability to delude ourselves into thinking we can beat those odds. And we all do it every day. Sometimes that involves money, other times its just risking breakfast with milk that expired yesterday.

          Oh my god... I've got milk that expired yesterday....

          I'M LIKING THOSE ODDS!!!!!!!!!!

          4-1 Odds people that I can stomach the milk! BETS ARE ON!

    My issue with this form of gambling is that there is no true win even if you get that super shiny cod piece of penetration after only spending $10. That item has no true value outside the game, or in the case of cosmetic items, in the game. The value is purely subjective. You are literally just giving money away for the chance to have better looking equipement.
    Actually gambling has the potential (small as it may be) to bring in financial return. Bet $50, win $500.
    Gambling isn't immoral, it is a game of chance that people willing enter into in the slim chance they will leave better off. If you feel that having a shiny suit of armour betters your life in some way, then perhaps you aren't mature enough to playing those games of chance in the first place.

      My issue with this form of gambling is that there is no true win even if you get that super shiny cod piece of penetration after only spending $10. That item has no true value outside the game, or in the case of cosmetic items, in the game. The value is purely subjective. You are literally just giving money away for the chance to have better looking equipement.

      Which is exactly the argument a number of guilty parties are using to claim loot boxes aren't gambling.

      Which of course, is a total crock.

        The better looking equipment side of it has value as well. Having a rare skin has social status, so the street cred of being able to strut around in something your friends don't have feeds the same gambling urges.

        But that is in so many things you simply cant turn it off. Thinking otherwise is crazy. And that's not saying nothing should be done by the way, just what I've been saying through this whole thing - they need to be very careful with any rules, as its far more ingrained in our lives than people seem to realise.

      Don't let the high street fashion stores hear that, they will lose all their customers once they realise that changing your look has no value

    Spends $700 on packs, finally gets rare item, says it wasn't worth it. I've could have told you that before you did it. Fair enough it's their money they can do what they like but don't bitch about feeling unfulfilled after, it was your choice and you really don't need the item anyways.
    I've said this before. My mate spent $150 on packs for Apex Legends but share played it with a friend that somehow has incredible luck when it comes to these things. He opened all the packs and proceeded to get him most of the rare/legendary items. It did however create a jealous divide between them.

      Mate that's no different to the loot my brother would get in the first destiny...he would suck up all the good drops and didn't even know what he had in his vault....oh the riches were amazing. Hey brother what's this fatebringer I have two of in my vault?
      Or , hey brother watch this I'm gonna get gjallarhorn from this exotic chest!
      Says he gets it, I think he's joking. 2 minutes later his character starts playing around with a massive rocket launcher....
      I'm like get out

    The number of people who don't understand that compulsions are not informed choice is mind-blowing.

    Do you guys think addicts like losing all their teeth and being homeless? Do you not think they feel compelled to keep going? This is literally the same thing.

    The question should be... Should lootboxes be in games that kids can Access.
    If games want gambling models for their economy. They should be restricted and regulated as such.
    Games can have lootboxes (as shitty and predatory an economic model as they are). But children shouldn't be able to play them.

    A WoW sub is US$14.95 a month isn't it?

    Are people who have subscribed to WoW for 3 years insane? They have spent more then US$500.

    This is exactly why they don't implement a store system for items any more. Why have people pay a fixed price for an item when they can pay up to $500 for it?

      Yes and no. Dota 2 has the store, and there are still items that sell for several thousand dollars on it.

      This is actually probably a better loot box system than several other games, because you know that you will eventually get the things you want. Many other games will let you gamble indefinitely.

    I spent about 30 bucks on coins because the game's good and I wanted to support the devs. I got the heirloom shit. I don't even play Wraith...

    the drama's for young people today!

    "I had money to spend and used $700 on in game loot but i don't think it was worth it"

    Poor guy.

    Largest comment section in some time and all about a tweeny game.

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