It has not been a good week for Apex Legends. First, the battle royale game angered fans with overpriced cosmetics. The game changed course, and the developers got on Reddit to explain the situation — only for the conversation to devolve into insults and name-calling. On Monday, Respawn CEO Vince Zampella apologized to fans on Twitter.
“Things got to a pretty bad place,” Zampella said. He noted that members of the Respawn team got some “toxic and nasty comments” where death threats were lobbied and family members were brought into the mix, and said that he supports his employees in speaking out against those instances. However, the way these employees expressed their concern “crossed a line,” according to Zampella.
“We shouldn’t contribute to [toxic and nasty comments],” Zampella continued. “We need to lead by example.”
Here’s the message in full:
The controversy began with Apex Legends’ Iron Crown event, which introduced skins that necessitated that players grind for (or buy) expensive loot boxes. There was backlash, and Respawn vowed to reverse course. The developers said it was a learning experience for them, but some conspiracy theorists alleged that the studio had planned it all along, prompting a variety of awful comments toward the battle royale creators. In response, a few Respawn employees snapped on Reddit, calling one player a “dick” and referring to others as “ass-hats,” “toxic,” and “freeloaders.”
The comments, while arguably nasty, were directed at segments of the fan base who expressed their displeasure with the situation using harsh terms. In context, the developers were talking about how difficult it’s been to monetize a free-to-play game, admitting a lack of experience in the realm.
Taken out of context, the comments sparked a furious response on social media by onlookers who believe that game developers shouldn’t speak to their fans that way. Zampella said that Respawn developers received some unfair attacks from players, but nonetheless apologized to those offended by the responses from the team.
“Having an open, healthy relationship with our community is incredibly important to all of us at Respawn,” Zampella wrote.