Hi-Rez Needs to Listen to Paladins Community Feedback
The Paladins community is abandoning the game in droves after Hi-Rez Studios released the controversial OB64 update despite extensive player backlash.
While there are a variety of reasons behind player dissatisfaction, the highest item on the list centers around changes made to the game’s card system, adding pay-to-win elements and loot box progression.
On the surface, Paladins bears similarities to Blizzard’s Overwatch. One of the main differences, however, is the collectible card system in Paladins.
Essentially, the card system in Paladins enables players to customize their characters to best suit their individual play style. The better the card combination, the better your character plays.
Prior to OB64, you had to grind the game for an in-game material called “Essence” to unlock new cards for your character. With the you cards unlocked, you could build a custom deck and were given points that could be allocated in order to strengthen your cards.
Following the OB64 update, Essence has been removed, and players are now given access to all cards. In addition, a new level system has been implemented where, in order to earn points for your cards, you need to collect duplicates.
Card duplicates are dropped at random through Chests, which can be purchased via in-game Gold. To improve your odds of acquiring powerful cards, you have the option of purchasing one of the game’s Legendary Keys.
These Legendary Keys can only be acquired by purchasing Crystals (premium currency) for real money. This means that if a player really wants to, they can shell out cash for the best card drops available and use those cards to improve how their characters play.
What’s more, Legendary Cards now fall under the same system where they drop at random and duplicates must be acquired in order to strengthen them.
I’m typically one to give Hi-Rez the benefit of the doubt, having put hundreds of hours into both Smite and Paladins respectively. My view is that while the company isn’t perfect, their free-to-play games are typically creative, enjoyable experiences.
However, this is one situation where I agree implicitly with the community.
The changes made to Paladins in the OB64 update have effectively destroyed the game and transformed it into yet another shameless cash grab in a year dominated by loot box controversies.
In fact, we’ve already addressed the loot box controversy here on IO, stating that indie games tend to be less inclined to taking advantage of players via pay-to-win strategies. Hi-Rez, unfortunately, has sullied that reputation by transforming a solid free-to-play indie into a pay-to-win mess.
It’s worth mentioning that Paladins has had a microtransaction and in-game loot box system prior to the release of OB64. However, these microtransactions were strictly relegated to cosmetic items that had zero impact on player performance.
For example, one popular microtransaction that many Paladins players opted to buy (myself included) is a Founder’s Pack for $19.99.
This Founder’s Pack grants instant access to all current and future Paladins characters, along with a few added cosmetic goodies like an exclusive Infernal Warhorse Mount.
Players could also exchange real money for Crystals (mentioned above) in order to unlock special Character Skins and Chests (loot boxes). While the main way to unlock cosmetics pre-OB64 was via microtransaction, there was still a way to grind for cosmetic items in the form of Radiant Chests.
Radiant Chests could be purchased using either Gold or Crystals, and could even be earned by leveling up your characters. As such, you could grind in the game and unlock Radiant Chests without ever having to spend a dime.
Following the launch of OB64, Radiant Chests no longer drop cosmetic items. Instead, they exclusively drop cards; this change increases the need to spend real money if you want to deck out your characters in fancy gear.
I realize that cosmetics aren’t necessary, but it was nevertheless nice to have the option to earn them through hard work, rather than by whipping out a credit card.
OB64 is a major disappoint to say the least, and is an example of a developer completely ignoring community feedback. I don’t endorse review bombing on Steam, but I do think that Hi-Rez should pay closer attention to player complaints in the future.
A game cannot survive without a dedicated community, and even if Hi-Rez reverses the changes made in OB64, they’ll have a hard time rebuilding player trust. Personally, I’m open to giving the game another chance. Whether or not other Paladins players feel the same remains to be seen, unfortunately.