It’s been a wild, wild week in the Contest of Champions community. Talks of boycotting the game can be seen in Reddit threads and Twitter conversations. Players are threatening to quit the game. The meme train is full speed ahead. Let’s break down what has been happening and why people are so upset.

It all started with an idea – Kabam had been teasing the next entry in the game’s story mode, Act 6, for months. To get the hype train rolling, they slowly sent cryptic messages to players that culminated in the new antagonist – Carina, the Collector’s daughter – being revealed. Along with that reveal, Kabam announced the unthinkable: the new Act 6 would feature “Champion Requirements,” meaning that any and all characters you wish to take into the quest had to be either 5-stars or 6-stars.

Contest of Champions
The original tease for Act 6

In case you don’t know, 5-stars and 6-stars are higher-end Champions that often takes weeks, sometimes months to acquire. I have been playing on-and-off for four years and have around 10 5-star Champions and a grand total of zero 6-star Champions. The focus of my time spent playing the game has been 4-star Champions which Kabam has just announced are now useless for endgame content. Some of the resources that you need to spend in order to take 4-star Champion to the maximum rank can take months to acquire, and so a lot of people now rightfully believe they have wasted a significant amount of time.

The biggest issue with this ban on 4-stars come from a game mechanic called Synergies. This mechanic has been a major focus of the heroes released in 2018, and most of the buffs to Champions that Kabam has been employed has been through synergies. If you have Champions who have some sort of relationship – be it nemeses, friends, lovers, teammates, etc. – synergies give them a slight buff or even an alteration to their kit. Some synergies are so strong that so-called “Trinities” have been formed, such as the Blade-Spiderman-Ghost Rider Trinity or the “Quantum Trinity.”

The main complaint is that people do not have all synergy Champions as 5-stars and frequently resort to using the 4-star version to compensate for it. Although these versions are weaker, a skilled player can make up for the difference through skill and experience by playing very carefully. Of course, with the changes, this can no longer be done and people are unhappy since they can’t use their Champions in certain parts of the game.

We’ve already talked about how Kabam’s greed influences the way the game is developed, and this is just another facet of that. To make things worse, soon after the Act 6 announcement and subsequent uproar Kabam announced a 24-hour run of Crystals – purchasable with Units – that could net you some of the best characters as 5-stars, which some in the community felt was Kabam kicking them while they’re down. Units are the in-game currency that is basically real money, as you can buy it for cash – so it’s really nothing more than a blatant crash-grab.

Contest of Champions
This tone-deaf deal went live as this article was being edited

I wish that was it, but Kabam couldn’t help themselves and almost immediately threw more fuel on the fire. After all of this happened, and while the community was still outraged, Kabam announced that the second chapter of Act 2 would double down on the Champion Requirements and make it so that you needed a certain amount of 6-star Champions in order to play the game. As I wrote earlier, 6-star Champions can take around 3-4 months of hard grinding to acquire. Of course, the community flipped again. Instead of saying it again, I’ll let Seatin do the talking because I felt like he already said it perfectly:

So what can Kabam do now? For one, Kabam could just revert the decision to exclude 4-star characters from Act 6. The decision is obviously disliked by the community, and if they keep going with it their brand will suffer from it. Another thing Kabam could do – but would probably still generate outrage – is compensate players with Rank Down Tickets that return some of the resources invested into Champions at the cost of leveling them down. That would allow players who feel like they wasted resources that can sometimes take months to gate on Champions that are now unusable in certain parts of the game

Whatever it is that they decide to do, Kabam needs to stop digging the hole they are in. It seems that day after day Kabam just keeps shooting itself in the foot, making things worse as they go.

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Efase is a writer for Parallax Media. He thoroughly enjoys esports, particularly Overwatch and Smash Bros. He hopes to expand the community by creating content that is easily accessible, regardless of past familiarity.

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