Apex Legends’ director of monetization has responded to fans’ questions about the in-game store, in a rare show of transparency, and responded directly to complaints about skins being too expensive.
As a free-to-play game, Apex Legends monetizes its product through in-game cosmetic items. These range from small gun charms to character skins, and even the unlockable Legends themselves.
Although a player could feasibly never spend a dime in-game and have just the same, fun gameplay experience as any other player, even the most frugal player might be tempted by a new skin every once in a while.
The cost for a legendary skin in Apex Legends is typically 1,800 Apex Coins, equivalent to $18. This has, unsurprisingly, been a point of contention for players.
Although collection events, and free packs simply from playing the game, give every player a chance at unlocking legendary items without spending any money, there’s still a question over the price of these items.
During a developer AMA, Respawn’s head of monetization gave a response to this very question, passing their answer through the comms director.
Their answer highlighted four key components that determine they consider: Gameplay first, costs, pricing, rewards. Here was the answer in full:
- Respawn is gameplay first – Because of that, the first goal we tried to adhere to is that gameplay isn’t locked in anyway around monetization and that it doesn’t feel pay-to-win. That’s why Legends are grindable and Legend Tokens are generally easier to get to unlock Legends (yes, we know that has led to other challenges we have to fix…math is harder than people think and when your assumptions are wrong, it’s hard to adjust). With that goal accomplished and the game not feeling pay-to-win, the other half of the equation we have to think about is how to keep the business healthy so we can keep making more Apex!
- Content creation costs – As much as people think we can turn cosmetics out easily because our competition outputs content at a high rate, our team is much smaller and spends more time on our skins. 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. It’s more expensive than people think in terms of number of people and hours because people don’t factor in tons of back and forth on concept, QA, ideation, creation, etc.
- Pricing – As mentioned, we think about this constantly and 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. We’re hoping players understand this is something we’re working hard to balance, but when you consider the full picture, it’s a tough challenge. There’s a lot players want from the Apex Universe, there’s a lot we want to give, but we can’t do that unless we’re a healthy business at the end of the day. New Game Modes, Maps, Features all come at a cost we’re trying to support.
- Rewards – Knowing not everyone can pay these prices, that’s why the Prize track system was created so that we can give away pretty high value rewards for just playing and that’s why we have a free track in the Battle Pass as well.
Perhaps most important here is that in order for Apex Legends to be a game for the long term, it has to remain profitable, or, as they put it, “a healthy business.”
It certainly has been so far. During EA’s Q4 earnings call at the start of May, they said that Apex Legends had far exceeded their expectations for revenue. The game reached $1 billion in life-to-date net bookings.
Players saw a very real example of how much money the game can generate, when they introduced a crowdfunding push for the ALGS Championship. With $5 from every $20 bundle going to the prize pool, the amount reached over $1 million in only 4 days.