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Controversial ‘pay-to-win’ Gaia skin will be temporarily removed from Modern Warfare 3

Evil Groot is gone — for now

A skeletal Modern Warfare skin that looks a lot like Groot. Image: Sledgehammer Games/Activision Blizzard
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Everyone hates Modern Warfare 3’s Gaia skin — a Modern Warfare 2 skin that made its way to the new game — because it’s so hard to see. The skin, which is for operator Nila “Nova” Brown and looks a lot like an evil Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy, is basically the outline of a human created from tree branches. It blends into the background pretty seamlessly, and was even previously nerfed in October because it’s too hard to see.

But it was not nerfed enough. “This is by far the worst pay to win item ever introduced to the game,” one person wrote on Reddit. “It’s almost impossible to track the player even from short distances in bright light.” That’s why Modern Warfare 3 developer Sledgehammer Games is taking another swing at the skin, and until then, it’s removing Gaia and its Blackcell Operator variant until it’s reworked, according to a Sledgehammer Games developer on Reddit.

“Adjustments to Gaia and Gaia Blackcell Operator Skins are in the pipeline for Modern Warfare III,” Sledgehammer Games said in its Reddit AMA. “In a future game update, we’ll disable this item until said changes can be released to all players.”

Players were able to unlock the skin by purchasing the sixth season battle pass, then working your way up to the skin. There’s a paid upgrade to the pass, however, which significantly speeds up the process. It was also previously available in a similar way in Modern Warfare 2. People complained about the Gaia skin when it was first released, and that’s spilled over into Modern Warfare 3.

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