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PUBG devs respond to community outcry over loot crates

Players will ultimately have to vote with their dollars

Battlegrounds will have three different kinds of loot crates going forward. One, called the Gamescom Invitational Crate, will require a $2.50 key to open. It will only be available for a limited time.
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Last week Playerunknown’s Battlegroundsdevelopers announced it would flip the switch on microtransactions, allowing players the chance to earn unique cosmetic items. The community rebelled, driving a post protesting the decision to the top of that game’s subreddit.

Today, along with the monthly patch notes, creator Brendan Greene — Playerunknown himself — responded with an apology for the way the change was communicated. But he was adamant that the decision to begin accepting microtransactions was final.

“I must admit that our messaging wasn’t very clear, so I extend my sincere apologies for the confusion caused,” Greene wrote. “The process of communicating our intentions precisely to our fans and communities should have been done in a more careful and prudent manner. I’ve learned a lot, and we’ll try to communicate better moving forward.”

The root of the debate over charging for loot crates in Battlegrounds boils down to the fact that Greene has gone on record multiple times saying that microtransactions would not be offered until the game had left early access. Developers asking for more money during early access has been a sticking point for consumers in the past. Ark: Survival Evolved famously set off a firestorm of criticism by offering a full-fledged DLC module before that title left early access.

“We don’t really recommend anybody does this,” studio co-founder Jesse Rapczak said during a post mortem at this year’s Game Developers Conference, “but for us it was a success.”

For the team at Bluehole, the Korean studio responsible for Battlegrounds, the decision to offer microtransactions is simply a part of the early access process. Microtransactions were always a part of the design plan, and Greene says that they need to be tested along with everything else.

“I do understand your concerns about the system,” Greene wrote, “but I feel testing for a sturdy economy on the Steam Marketplace is necessary at this stage and ultimately beneficial for the game. And once again, this is a purely optional system, and you are not forced into participating if you do not feel like it. You will still get a fully featured game, with a polished Battle Royale game-mode, a wide variety of weapons and vehicles to play with, stat tracking, ranking and leaderboard systems, 2D and 3D replays and much more.”

The statement Battlegrounds accompanied notes on the fourth monthly update for the game since its launch, which included many new features including Xbox controller support, a first-person only mode and a horn for in-game vehicles.

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