Players And Makers Of Apex Legends Resort To Name-Calling Over Microtransactions

Illustration: Apex Legends, Respawn

Over the weekend, the frustrations of Apex Legends players percolating over the battle royale game’s microtransactions boiled over as a developer on the game called players who are rude to developers as “arse-hats” and called one player a “dick.” Understanding why a developer would do that means understanding why the community is so angry.

Prior to this incident, the Apex Legends subreddit was a generally peaceful place, one where the community enjoyed a friendly relationship with the developers of the game, Respawn. The subreddit even had a flair that would tag responses from developers on the game, as they would occasionally participate in threads.

After the game’s limited time Iron Crown event last week, which introduced new collectable items, things in the subreddit took a turn over the microtransactions. Fans were most irked by a rare skin that costs $237 dollars of premium currency to unlock.

For the most part, even as members of the subreddit were frustrated with the microtransactions, they were quick to shift the blame to EA, who bought Respawn in 2017.

EA is a habitual target of ire for video game enthusiasts, recently over repeated controversies with microtransactions and is seen as meddlesome with the studios it acquires.

On Saturday, Respawn changed the event so that exclusive skins would also be available in the game’s normal store this week, for the standard price of legendary skins, which is about $27. This doesn’t include the $237 skin, but it will be obtainable via lootboxes rather than an outright purchase after the event is over.

Following those changes, a Respawn developer wrote a post on the subreddit, and things got more heated.

In that post, Drew McCoy, project lead at Respawn, made a comment about the event and the reason for the change, saying that the developers “will not engage with temper tantrums.” He was seemingly trying to explain why the developers were making a change in the face of player anger, while signalling that expressions of anger from players wouldn’t always trigger a change. He added that “[he] has been in the industry long enough to remember when players weren’t complete arse-hats to developers and it was pretty neat.”

A commenter responded to that with a long comment that began with: “Well I guess you can also remember when developers weren’t money grabbing fucks that scammed their players too?” McCoy replied “Hey everyone - found the dick I was talking about.” Afterward, the subreddit exploded in hostility towards Repsawn. Currently, the highest upvoted post in the subreddit with over thirty thousand upvotes is a screencap of a YouTube comment referencing McCoy’s comments.

Later in the thread, McCoy tried to clarify his comments: “No, I’m not trying to paint all players with a huge brush - I’m commenting on the fact that nowadays its just easier and less stressful to not post anywhere if you’re a dev. That sucks.”

Kotaku reached out to Respawn about this situation but did not receive a reply in time for publication.

No one likes being called a dick, especially when in a situation when you feel like you’re unfairly being asked to spend money. On the other side of the equation, game developers tend to take a lot of verbal abuse from angry players, and it’s inevitable that sometimes developers will lash back out.

We’re only two weeks out from the developers of upcoming indie game Ooblets were harassed for their announcement that their game would be an Epic store exclusive.

The relationship between developers and players is on a knife’s edge in the world of Apex Legend and elsewhere. The ability to immediately communicate with — or insult — anyone you can think of has helped bring us here. It’s unclear how we get past it.


    I'll admit straight away I have not followed this in depth so I likely don't know the full story. But all signs are pointing to these micro transactions being for cosmetics? If so, there's a lot of people that need to grow up.

      no you don't know the full story, 1 important thing to remember about this is apex legends competes with fortnite and is pricing their shit the same yet fortnite is 3rd person not first therefore you actually get to see the cosmetics while playing.

      The MTX was overpriced and gated out the ass, the response to customer criticism of this was to actually increase the price and abuse the customers.

      The devs called the players of a game they chose to ship as free2play FREELOADERS!

      at every turn they doubled down and abused the consumer it's a fucking disgrace.

    I read a more up to date story on this elsewhere. Seems that beyond the initial stuff, a CM went on to double-down in defending the developer, adding fuel to the fire.

    Respawn's CEO commented on the controversy, apologizing on behalf of the team:

    Zampella acknowledged that "some of our folks crossed a line with their comments," and apologized to all who took offense.
    "I will always stand behind the team here at Respawn and support them on speaking out against some of the toxic and nasty comments being directed at them, including everything from death threats to comments aimed at their family and loved ones," he wrote.
    "But we shouldn't contribute to it when we do comment, and add to the very thing we want to prevent. We need to lead by example. Last week we didn't do that, and going forward we will be better."

    Emphasis mine, as I expect that will indicate what to expect from Respawn moving forward.

    Just another day on the Internet, unfortunately.

      sorry but that death threats stuff is no excuse for the way they behaved, this was predatory MTX from the get go and to top it off they abused consumers for not being okay with getting exploited.

      then again just another day on the internet is pretty accurate lol. another day of people using the "i got death threats from anonymous edgelords therefore my actions are justified" and anyone criticising the behavior that led to it must condone the death threats etc etc i'm serious i will get this accusation 100% guaranteed for saying respawn fucked this up from start to finish. Best 2 examples, basing your FPS cosmetic prices on a rival 3rdPS and shipping your game as free2play then calling your players freeloaders.

        For what it's worth nobody said the death threats, etc, excused how they acted.

        In fact, the part of the quote @transientmind highlighted is actually a pretty straight "nothing excuses the way our team acted" kind of statement. It literally admits that they failed to uphold a professional standard, failed to lead by example, and it actually doesn't use the other stuff as an excuse.

        Personally, I appreciate the honesty that their people fucked up and didn't handle it professionally. However, there is indeed still the underlying issue of what is a massively predatory microtransaction push that lead to the whole shitstorm in the first place.

          to be fair the CEO apologised nobody else has that i know of but your probably right, i owe him an apology.

          @transientmind sorry if i got your intentions wrong.

    In some ways i can see both sides of it, that MTX event was simply rubbish, even for a free to to play game. And their press release didnt solve the issue, indeed it just made it worse, and the statement was clearly written by some with little respect for the intelligence of the reader.

    So I can see why the backlash happened.

    But every day I see some gamers on reddit with absolutely no sense of reality and certainly no where near as much 'constructive feedback' as they like to think they do. No common sense to the amount entitlement and aggression they are throwing down to people doing their jobs.

    Sure Respawn could have been more diplomatic, but man with the amount of trash they have to deal with daily and amount of real threats they must get, any human beings have a break point for patience.

      i think it's a bullshit excuse, they are selectively taking places like reddit seriously because it suits them to do so now because it supports the idea that they were pushed into reacting poorly. Well that seems stupid to me because they spend the rest of their time like most of us, ignoring rabid people on resetera and reddit etc. Everyday there are assholes saying shit on the internet but suddenly they can't ignore it anymore? it doesn't track for me it sounds like BS.

        Everyday there are assholes saying shit on the internet but suddenly they can't ignore it anymore?

        Why should they or ANYONE have to deal any sort of rubbish? I would love to see how some gamers would cope if they had to deal with the same sort of rubbish from clients or customers,that resort to ultra level of personal and professional attacks. Even as terrible as these MTX are, these people are most not deserving of any of this extreme rubbish.

        As a gamer if you have to resort to that form of communication I truly question their age and maturity.

          i don't think you need to question their age or maturity they are obviously immature and almost always under 20yo.

          i don't think my comment is saying they SHOULD have to deal with the harassment if that is how it reads then i'm sorry i screwed up, i just don't buy the idea that they can put up with it day in and day out for months and months then suddenly it overwhelms them. I get abused everyday where i work for shit that is 100% outside my control and often the fault of the person yelling at me, if i ever responded like this i would be sacked on the spot.

          That being said i don't want any of these people sacked, and if the CEO is going to make an apology how about an apology for the MTX shitshow that spawned the whole problem.

    While it may be a double standard expecting professionalism from games developers while having to deal with players who abuse them and act in an entirely unacceptable way, it's not an entirely UNFAIR double standard, because the simple fact is that the developers ARE "professionals". Why should they have to put up with this shit? Because it's their JOB. They are getting PAID to do this. Players aren't getting paid- they're the ones who are expected to PAY. So while it would be nice if communities could be polite and reasonable, when that can't happen devs can't just start acting like "Well you be a dick to me and I'll be a dick to you" because they have RESPONSIBILITIES that the players simply do not have.

    $237 to unlock a rare skin.

    I'm so glad I don't care about that kind of thing, no way in hell would I ever consider paying that amount of money just to stroke my ego a bit. I could buy a dozen games that'd give me so much more enjoyment than the ability to look a little fancier.

      The problem is the target audience for such vanity items is kids, teenagers, ego addicts, etc. This business model prays on the weak and ignorant, and it's sickening.

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