Apex Legends Developers Answer Outrage Over Skin Cost

The Apex Legends team has pulled back the curtain on the pricing of their skins following an outcry from the player community.
The Apex Legends team has pulled back the curtain on the pricing of their skins following an outcry from the player community. / Respawn Entertainment

The Apex Legends team has pulled back the curtain on the pricing of their skins following an outcry from the player community.

The explanation came as part of an answer on the Official Apex Legends: Legacy Update AMA Reddit post on the Apex Legends subreddit board published Tuesday, May 18. As the title implies, the post provides a place where players can ask questions of the Respawn development team concerning the latest update for Season 9. Among the questions asked was whether or not the game would eventually move to more affordable content as the player base expands.

Apex Legends Developers Answer Outrage Over Skin Cost

Reddit user x5hadau wrote, "I get that you gotta make [Apex Legends] profitable, but there's gotta be a way to prevent the player from feeling cheated when they buy something...As the game grows, is there any potential movement towards more affordable content across the board?"

x5hadau went on to say how they felt a price point of nearly $20 USD was "a lot to ask for one cosmetic item" and that while players did want these skins, "it's hard to justify it or feel good about it."

Ryan Rigney, Director of Communications for Respawn, responded with a direct answer from who he identified as the "monetization guy." He broke his response into four distinct parts: gameplay first, creation costs, pricing, and rewards.

Developer Response

"Pricing is tricky and something we think about constantly," he wrote, "The first goal we tried to adhere to is that gameplay isn't locked in any way around monetization and that it doesn't feel pay-to-win."

He is likely referring to Apex Legends' free-to-play (F2P) model. Players don't have to pay real-world currency to unlock other characters or have greater access to gameplay content. This is the reason every Legend is "grindable" and why players can earn Legend Tokens with ease. However, this model has one particular drawback: keeping the game alive.

This is where "pricey" cosmetics come in. The costs of running the company, the game, and even designing the very skins that sparked the debate can be expensive. Without a stream of revenue, maintaining the game becomes difficult--especially when it comes to sticking to the F2P model.

Skins are one of a handful of commodities that are purely cosmetic, optional, and do next to nothing to impact gameplay. It's not implausible for the team to prioritize them as a way to keep Apex Legends afloat.

"Our team is much smaller and spends more time on our skins," he explained, "The part of the equation people miss is the expense side of the people we have working on these things and the fact that we can't work 24/7."

He continued, "It's tough because we want Apex to be around for a loooooong time. Us being able to continue to make the game depends on operating a healthy business."

He asked for the community's support and tolerance regarding the prices of skins. According to him, it's something of a balancing act with player desires on one side and team capacity on the other. Monetization is the fulcrum of sorts that keeps the operation in the air. Both sides need each other for things to remain equal—players need Respawn to create the content and Respawn needs the players to keep the game going so they can provide that content. It all comes at a cost.

This, according to him, is why the rewards mechanic is in place. The team knows that not every player can afford to chip in. However, they don't want anyone to feel left out, hence the Battle Pass free track and Prize tracking system.

"We want to try and serve as many players as we can for sure so we're going to try things to learn what works," he wrote.

TL;DR: The skins are pricey because Apex Legends is free-to-play and the development team is uncomfortable making their players pay for anything aside from optional rewards. Players need the team to create content and the team needs players to keep the business running so they can supply that content.

The replies weren't as excited as perhaps the team had hoped. One user called the explanation a "non-answer" that didn't actually provide a resolution to the original question posed. Another suggested that halving the skins anyway would result in double the sales and even more revenue, but they were quickly debunked.

"That's why these maths are so hard. Every player is so different," they replied.

It looks like the prices of skins won't be changing anytime soon.