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Apex Legends’ new Battle Pass plans promise greater rewards, but for more of your real-world money

No more Apex Coin freebies

Octane and Fuse run from Mad Maggie's flaming wrecking ball in Apex Legends Season 20.
Image credit: EA

Ever since the hat was invented by Valve Corporation in 2009, mankind has grappled with questions of fairness, worthiness, and pride – at least as they pertain to microtransations in free-to-play games. Shooty battle royale Apex Legends is the latest to posit an answer, that being "the Battle Pass should cost more money".

In a post detailing BP-specific changes to expect in Apex’s upcoming Season 22, publishers EA announced that the Premium Battle Pass will, from Season 22 onward, only be sold for $10 in real-world cash – a major change from previous passes, that were buyable with in-game currency that could be earned through play. There’ll also be two separate Premium Battle Passes per season, taking the total cost per-season to $20. Cue outrage, the game’s subreddit filling in minutes with players announcing their immediate uninstall.

In fairness to the Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells crowd, this change could represent a major price hike for regular players when Season 22 launches on August 6th. Previous Premium Battle Passes cost 950 Apex Coins, the aforementioned in-game currency, but by progressing through the pass’s tiers, you could eventually earn that amount back in rewards. Which could then be spent on the next season’s Battle Pass, and so on, potentially daisy-chaining BP purchases without ever needing to buy a fresh pile of Apex Coins with real money.

Now that the Premium Battle Pass is going cash-only, that self-funding cycling is broken, and what replaces it ain’t cheap. At $10 a pop, with two per season and usually four seasons in a year, that’s an annual cost of $80 – just four bucks shy of a standard Netflix sub. For skins and taunts. Yeesh.

Nonetheless, EA’s post argues that the new system will in fact "up the value" for players. While each individual Premium Battle Pass will only have 60 levels apiece, down from 110, when completed they’ll fork over more crafting materials and Apex Pack loot crates than previous passes did. And since there’ll be twice as many passes per season, one per 'split' (basically each half of the season), the total per-season haul of potential unlocks is effectively doubled. In the first two weeks of season 22, there’ll also be the one-off chance to unlock the first split’s Premium Battle Pass rewards for free, by completing "a set of challenges".

The Aerith skin for the character Horizon in Apex Legends' FF7 Rebirth crossover event.
Image credit: EA/Respawn Entertainment

That’s cool and all – more crafting materials is a good way to gain the specific unlockables you want, offsetting the randomness of Apex Packs – but even as someone whose interest in Apex Legends was only recently rekindled, I wouldn’t pay ten quid for even twice as many cosmetics. Not when I’ve spent the past five years getting Battle Passes who what felt like nada.

Such reticence has, it must be said, likely been calculated by EA. Like January’s Final Fantasy VII Rebirth crossover event, and its $360 deathbox skin, this whole thing smacks of an appeal to whales – dedicated big spenders who’ll pay up regardless. Meanwhile, more numerous but also more frugal players are considered acceptable losses. Which from a purely business-y standpoint, is a logical enough plan for F2P games that are already facing a dwindling playerbase.

From a player standpoint, though... hmmmmm. We can get as snooty as we want about the cosmetic-based concept of Battle Passes, but it’s a fact that they incentivise play, through the simple pleasures of seeing a level counter tick up as much as the desire for the cosmetics themselves. Erecting a higher paywall for them can and will remove this source of progression, and with it, the ability to feel like you’re getting wins even when you’re eating shit in the actual arena. That’s surely not good for Apex Legends’ health, even if it does prove good for its coffers.

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