Apex Legends gets the ol' Steam review bomb treatment

 Mad Maggie is mad.
Credit: Respawn Entertainment

The new Apex Legends battle pass scheme isn't going over well.

Respawn announced this week that Apex will now get two short battle passes per season instead of one long one. Whether that part of the news is strictly a bad thing is debatable: Respawn says the new 60-tier half-season passes will still contain the same number of legendary skins as the old 110-tier passes, but with less filler.

What is obviously bad for players, however, is that they can no longer save up the Apex Coins they earn from battle passes and use them to unlock the premium tiers in future passes. The premium tracks will now require direct payment of $9.99 USD to unlock, no substituting in-game currency.

The only reasonable explanation for that change is the obvious one—that someone thinks Apex can make more money this way—so the announcement's claim that it adds "value" for players feels a bit patronizing. (I suppose it probably isn't marketing best practice to say 'we're doing this to make more money,' but I for one would've appreciated the honesty.)

Apex players are now expressing their dissatisfaction using the standard method: dumping negative Steam reviews on the game. The battle royale shooter has accrued over 1,300 negative reviews so far today, dropping its recent review score average to "Mixed."

Apex Legends recent reviews on Steam show a Mixed rating.
Apex Legends recent reviews on Steam show a Mixed rating.

A number of players have framed the battle pass change as the straw that broke the camel's back, citing cheaters, bugs, server issues, and balancing disagreements as their other grievances. "Now with the new battle pass system, I'm deleting the game, as well as most players, bye," wrote one Steam reviewer. The Apex Legends subreddit is looking just as dire: one of the top posts right now declares, "I uninstalled!"

There hasn't actually been an immediate dip in Apex's player count: The free-to-play shooter is one of the most popular games on Steam, with a peak of over 240,000 concurrent players today. And complaints about matchmaking, cheating, bugs, and monetization decisions are hardly unique to Apex—every big live service game faces some combination of those criticisms.

It's more than slightly premature to start declaring Apex a dead game, in other words, but that hyperbolic rallying cry does get the message across: People really don't like being asked to spend money where they previously didn't have to.

It isn't uncommon for publishers and developers to backpedal after an announcement sees this sort of backlash, so it's not a sure thing that EA and Respawn will see it through. If they do, the first half-season battle pass will come with the start of Season 22 in August—find more details on the changes here.