The Apex Legends Collection Events are nothing to celebrate

It’s October, the month where every service game gets spooky. Scream Fortress has taken over the gravel fields of Team Fortress 2 for the eleventh year in a row. Junkenstein has sent his minions after the heroes of Overwatch again. Titles from Halo to For Honor are breaking out the scares, and that includes Apex Legends. One of the newer ongoing games to hit, Apex has a few ideas about just how events should work. Like the title’s previous updates, the Fight or Fright collection event is big on the transactions and lacking in terms of generosity. Just a few years ago, games would shower players in bonuses just for showing up during a special time of year. Nowadays, it’s all about the collection. And that collection isn’t as great as it should be.

The Apex Legends Collection events and you

For those unaware, here’s how Apex deals with events. Gameplay additions, like this year’s FFA Shadowfall mode, are available for free at the launch of seasons and in “Themed Events.” You’re still working towards the season’s battle pass, which exists outside of the holiday stuff. There’s also the item shop, which has exclusive skins to pick up and characters to buy. Separate from all of that is the “Collection Event,” which houses 24 event-exclusive cosmetic items. You can purchase them separately with premium currency, the rare crafting materials, or you can buy them one at a time through holiday loot boxes. What you can’t do is earn them through playing the game.

Even this setup isn’t the end of the world. After all, Apex Legends is a big AAA-scale free-to-play game, so they need some way to keep the train moving. The issue comes in how Apex values its cosmetics. If you want to buy loot boxes for this event, they’re $7 a pop, making the whole treasure trove worth over $150. If you just want to buy separate items, they range in price, but one of the more desirable skins will set you back around $15. That is the price of an entire indie video game, not the price of cowboy duds for Mirage.

Blackhole son

Apex isn’t the first game to price items this way, especially in the free-to-play space, but that still seems odd, especially in a game that has so many other ways for you to spend your hard-earned cash. At least with the implemented loot boxes and battle passes, you’re playing the game to earn items. With this “collection event,” the only way you can participate is with your wallet. These items are the gaming equivalent to I Am Rich, the famous iPhone application that existed solely to provide users with a way to flaunt their wealth. It’s like seeing a driver at a drag race burning out at the starting line in a diamond-plated car. It’s fool’s gold for those who can afford it and torturous mental anguish for those with poor impulse control.

There’s a good chunk of people who are happy to play any game without worrying about cosmetics, and more power to them. However, there’s a significant portion of players out there who have major issues with overspending on things they enjoy. These are the same types of problems that eventually led the government to scare EA out of Battlefront 2‘s loot box system, and the betterment of one product doesn’t make the problem go away. Making a set of highly desirable items both time-limited and prohibitively expensive tells anyone with these issues that they’re not wanted. It encourages players to stay away simply to avoid the temptation, and it hurts the reputation of everyone involved.

Shouting at the clouds

Even if you are one of those lucky ones who can mentally block out the temptations, you’re still getting a raw deal. One of the most constant complaints about Apex Legends since it launched revolved around its ho-hum character skins. Fast forward to the Fight or Fright collection, and we suddenly have the types of stylish skins players expect from this type of game: full costumes and custom voice lines, which are the types of things that Overwatch gets a few times a year. All of that is locked behind a ridiculously unforgiving paywall.

That’s the frustrating part about all of this. It’s an all or nothing proposition with no options. Why can’t there be a separate event battle pass to buy into, even at a premium price point? Then, you have a reason to keep playing and you can earn the skins. Why can’t Apex hand out a single random skin for the collection when you log in during the event? At least free players get something and you’re freely advertising to others who may be willing to buy. Even Overwatch hands out a free loot box for every event (and six for the Winter Wonderland event). It’s certainly better than the free menu music you get for logging in currently.

As it stands, it is more difficult to want to play Apex Legends, and that is mostly due to events like this. There are plenty of other games that don’t bog the player down in temptation, multiple currencies, and unchecked greed. Maybe Respawn’s next project can turn some heads at EA. Perhaps Apex is one of the last of their games to embrace the monetization schemes that almost brought them to Washington. Or, maybe subscriptions, streaming, or some other insane idea will make all this nastiness a historical footnote. Either way, it’s all a real shame in the here and now. If all this is what it takes to keep this game free, buying the premium edition would be more attractive. Maybe then Respawn can reward players for actually playing the game just a little bit.