Home Escape From Tarkov botches whale-sized ‘Unheard Edition’ launch, hears it from fans

Escape From Tarkov botches whale-sized ‘Unheard Edition’ launch, hears it from fans


  • Escape from Tarkov's $250 "Unheard Edition" sparks backlash for perceived pay-to-win features.
  • Discontent grows over unfulfilled promises of future DLC and exclusive PvE mode for high-paying customers.
  • Battlestate Games' response criticized, escalating tensions within the community and drawing comparisons to past controversies.

The makers of Escape from Tarkov, which originally launched in 2017, announced an eye-watering $250 special edition of the extraction shooter on Thursday. It did not go well.

Where to begin? The “Unheard Edition” has a slew of extra content, among them features that many fans call a naked pay-to-win scheme for the advantages they give a buyer over someone who hasn’t forked over $250.

Then there are the buyers of other special editions for a game that launched seven years ago, wondering what happened to the promise that they would receive all future DLC for paying a premium price.

Finally, a new PvE co-op mode is exclusive to those who pay the Unheard Edition’s freight, and players are livid that such a core feature is available only to those with deep enough pockets.

And frankly, Battlestate Games’ reaction to all of this leaves plenty to be desired. But let’s start with the pay-to-win allegations, called out in several posts to Escape From Tarkov’s subreddit, whose moderators seem to be in open rebellion, too.

Is Escape From Tarkov now pay-to-win?

Unheard Edition buyers will get additional PMC pockets and slots on the Flea Market, which means holding onto better gear (or carrying it in combat altogether). There’s also “increased Fence standing,” which in Escape from Tarkov means enemy NPCs are less aggressive at certain distances than they would be toward players with a lower standing.

“This is blatant ‘you get a giant head start in front of everyone else,’ one redditor said in a post upvoted thousands of times.

Another pointed out, as regards the flea market slots “we got those taken away as a way to kerb [real money transactions] and cheater benefits, now we have to pay to get them back.”

Next up is the PvE mode — where player progression does not wipe with a server reset. Escape from Tarkov’s developers have regularly reset their servers to re-level the playing field. The whales who go in for $250 will be able to build up progression in offline events, keep it, and in addition to having an altogether different mode to progress, will have a tremendous advantage when Escape From Tarkov next resets.

There’s also the fact that many consider the PvE mode to be the kind of extra feature that they would be getting if they bought the special edition Battlestate Games offered, Edge of Darkness, all the way back in its early access days. Even if it’s not, conveniently, Battlestate removed the Edge of Darkness edition from digital marketplaces back in December, effectively ending that entitlement program.

Escape From Tarkov’s developer response is … unsatisfactory

And that folds into Battlestate’s response to the uproar. On X, Battlestate tried explaining that “PvE mode is a unique feature which is available only for owners of The Unheard Edition.” The studio then promised that Edge of Darkness owners would get “new features exclusive” to them.

The makers of Tencent-published competitor Arena Breakout: Infinite noticed the discontent and tried to use it to buck up support for their game, inviting this snippy response.

Meantime, in Escape From Tarkov’s Discord, a community manager snippily replied to a player (per Forbes) “Just because you all want it to become a DLC it wouldn’t mean it is one.” The Discord server has since gone quiet.

There you have it, how to stir up needless unrest in a community loyal to a game that got one of the earliest toeholds on an emerging genre, the extraction shooter. Much of this controversy resembles Overkill Software’s bumbling response to Payday 2 fans similarly upset over that game’s microtransaction scheme.

Whether Edge of Darkness buyers, whose edition was pulled from sale entirely at the end of 2023, end up getting additional DLC or not, this bears watching.

About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Owen Good
Gaming Editor (US)

Owen Good is a 15-year veteran of video games writing, also covering pop culture and entertainment subjects for the likes of Kotaku and Polygon. He is a Gaming Editor for ReadWrite working from his home in North Carolina, the United States, joining this publication in April, 2024. Good is a 1995 graduate of North Carolina State University and a 2000 graduate of The Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University, in New York. A second-generation newspaperman, Good's career before covering video games included daily newspaper stints in North Carolina; in upstate New York; in Washington, D.C., with the Associated Press; and…

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