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Escape From Tarkov developer offers $250 pay-to-win DLC, outraging entire fan base

What is it? Escape from Tarkov is a first-person survival shooter in the vein of multiplayer games like Arma 3 and Day Z. Players spawn on one side of a map with an extraction point on the other. They must fight against NPCs and other players to escape the map. Players can go it solo or team up, but if they die, they lose all their gear.

On Monday, Battlestate Games released a significant content drop for its live service game Escape from Tarkov. The update includes a new PvE co-op mode and several bonuses for the PvP mode. Battlestate named the update the “Unheard Edition” and priced it at $250. Players who have already bought the Edge of Darkness Edition only have to pay $100 for the upgrade.

Fans are unhappy about the price and the bonuses, calling it a pay-to-win scheme because several PvP bonuses give Unheard Edition buyers a competitive advantage against those who don’t buy the new upgrade. These bonuses include more storage space for loot, improved skills after a wipe, and a bonus that prevents NPC scavengers from firing at players with more than six reputation levels with Fence. The latter makes it much easier to get to the extraction point.

Furthermore, Battlestate promised early adopters who pre-ordered the Edge of Darkness Edition while it was still in closed beta that future DLC would be free. Now, they have to pay $100 for what they consider to be paid DLC.

Battlestate Games tried to explain that the Unheard Edition does not count as DLC because it is a new version of the game, but it did not do a very good job of it.

“It ain’t DLC, its unique feature of the new edition added [sic],” said Battlestate’s Lead Community Manager on Discord. “DLC means additional downloadable content. PvE is a feature and a gamemode. Just because you all want it to become a DLC it wouldn’t mean it is one. It’s featured game mode for the new edition of the game [sic].”

It may have been better to have a professional PR representative clarify the situation rather than an emotionally charged community manager because the explanation only further inflamed fans. The backlash got so intense on Discord that Battlestate silenced all but three channels on the Escape From Tarkov server.

In response to the stifling of dissent, moderators in the Escape From Tarkov unofficial subreddit temporarily lifted the ban on same-topic posts, noting that they are “just as livid about the situation” as everybody else.

“Let’s start this off right – we (the mod team) are just as livid about this situation as you are. We were initially enforcing rule 8 [no reposts]; however, after an internal vote, looking into the new edition, and some discussion, we have all come to the conclusion that it sucks. Complain away; it’s P2W and a betrayal of players’ trust/support of this game over the years.”

Despite the continued blowback, Battlestate doubled down on Monday, reiterating that PvE mode is a feature that Edge of Darkness players are not entitled to. On Tuesday, the developer backpedaled slightly, announcing that it would give Edge of Darkness purchasers access to the PvE mode, but only for six months. After that, it will return to being exclusive to the Unheard Edition.

Of course, none of this addresses the arguably more serious problem of introducing pay-to-win mechanisms into Escape From Tarkov. Battlestate’s handling of the problem is not likely to placate the masses, which were 200,000 concurrent at one point. Parody account @BatterStateGame’s satirical post below perfectly sums up Battlestate’s tone-deaf response to the situation.

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