Having achieved the third-most concurrent players ever recorded on Steam last weekend, PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds is bigger than ever. That also means it's a larger target for criticism, especially as the developers make changes and move toward leaving Early Access. The most controversial change yet was introducing microtransactions in the form of a crate-and-key system, wherein players purchase keys (with money) to unlock crates hiding cosmetics to wear in-game.
Brendan "PlayerUnknown" Greene seems to be aware of the way players have responded to the decision to roll-out a microtransaction system in the midst of the game having enormous financial success (five million copies and counting) and still being developed in Early Access, revealing in a post that he's "indebted to our fans and community to address the reaction."
"The idea of testing, prior to full implementation, is at the heart of adding every new game feature in our game," said Greene, "and this includes the crate and key system which we believe will serve as the foundation of a healthy economy after launch. This is an economy that would and should benefit all players—both who are willing to pay and who are not willing to pay for vanity items."
Greene reiterated that cosmetics will form the basis of the game's economy, and those not interested in buying keys will be granted a "fully featured game."
"But still," he said, "I must admit that our messaging wasn't very clear, so I extend my sincere apologies for the confusion caused. 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."
Despite the criticism, the crate-and-key system isn't going anywhere, it seems, nor will the developers be canceling a planned rollout for the system during Gamescom this month. Three crates will appear in Battlegrounds later in August, but one of them, which features the best and rarest cosmetic loot, cannot be opened without purchasing a key for $2.50.
(The screen shot above is from one of the free crates.)
That doesn't mean the criticism hasn't given Greene pause, admitting "we are taking your concerns into consideration when it comes to the ability to get free cosmetics by playing the game." Perhaps Battlegrounds will find a middle ground for players in search of new loot, even if it's a pain for you to unlock.
More importantly, though, we have new information about the game's next monthly update, which includes important changes like better optimization and first-person servers, but there's one feature that really caught my eye.
Now, all that's missing is the ability to ride a bike. And jet skis. And a chicken dinner for your best friends and mine, Crowbar & Sickle.