Elite Dangerous gets its own kick in the Steam ratings shin over real money ship sales

 A red PYTHON MK II STELLAR spaceship in Elite Dangerous.
A red PYTHON MK II STELLAR spaceship in Elite Dangerous.

Just yesterday, Morgan observed that tanking a game's Steam rating has become a reflexive response to PC gaming grievances big and small. Now, as Helldivers 2's user review average recovers from its weekend PSN account linking fiasco, another game is being hit with a smaller, but still conspicuous, influx of negative Steam user reviews.

The recent reviews for space sim Elite Dangerous are sitting at a "Mixed" rating as some players express disappointment over new offers in the game's store.

The latest update for the nearly decade-old Milky Way simulation adds a new ship, the Python Mk II, but only for those willing to spend at least 16,250 ARX, a currency that can be earned in-game (but with a 400 ARX per week maximum) or purchased with real money. The ship won't be available for the non-purchasable in-game currency, called credits, until August 7.

Along with early access to the new ship, Elite developer Frontier has added powerful pre-built ships to the ARX store. "We envision these Pre-built Ships to be a quicker way for newer players to get involved in the areas they have the most interest in, or for our existing players who are considering a new career path in game, but do not have time to devote to a new build from scratch," the studio said in April.

Some players are not taking such a positive view of the change.

"They went pay to win!" declared one recent Steam reviewer. "The whole point of the game is to earn credits, explore a beautiful galaxy, and buy ships. Where is the problem with this? Well now you can skip the work to earn credits for ships and just pay real money for pre-built ships to do what ever you want. Don't even get me started on the fact that the new Python MK2 is locked behind a cash shop pay wall until August 7. What a shame it was a good game."

With just over 550 new Steam reviews averaging to a "Mixed" rating over the month since the announcement, this is certainly no Helldivers 2 situation, which saw that game bombarded with over 200,000 negative Steam reviews in one weekend after the now-retracted announcement that linking a PSN account was becoming mandatory. Elite has far fewer active players than this year's biggest hit, obviously, but the ARX store additions also haven't united its whole playerbase in discontent in the same way the PSN issue did with Helldivers 2 players—some are fine with it.

"I'm actually all for the microtransactions route as it's being handled," said one player on Reddit. "I mean, the ship is essentially a timer exclusive for those willing to pay out, but won't be locked behind that forever. As someone who has no interest in microtransactions I'm not losing out on anything, I'm just not getting it as soon which I’m fine with. [Frontier] are giving the players the choice. It's not like they're turning the game into a subscription model where if you don’t pay you can't play."

The varying perspectives of its players have saved Elite from bearing the red "Recent reviews: Mostly negative" mark of shame, but for now it must suffer the yellow "Recent reviews: Mixed" tag. Elite's overall Steam review average remains "Mostly positive."