Heirlooms are Apex Legends’ most coveted cosmetic. There’s a miniscule chance that you’ll open up those stunning red shards in your regular Apex Packs, and if you do, you then have to decide which character to spend them on. I still haven’t decided who to use mine on since unlocking them a couple of weeks ago. Go back to my OG main Bloodhound, or learn to play Valkyrie because her heirloom is far cooler?

I’m not trying to brag. I have hundreds of hours in Apex Legends, and have only just unlocked my first shards. It’s a big decision. But there’s another way to unlock them, if you’re not holding out hope for your luck in the Legend lottery. You can just buy them.

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It wasn’t always the case, but every heirloom barring Wraith’s has been available in a Collection Event. To unlock it, you simply have to buy every cosmetic item the event puts up for sale. For Bloodhound’s axe, you also had to pay an additional 3,500 coins, but that was soon scrapped. Buying Loba’s heirloom in the latest Collection Event cost 33,600 coins, which equals £239.97. If you’re serious about buying it outright, some bundle trickery can bring that price down to around £159.98, but that’s still an eye-watering amount of money for a digital cosmetic.

I’ve got no problem with people spending money on their favourite games. I’ve bought Apex Coins before, although I’ve never dropped them in the same amounts as would be needed to buy out an event. If nothing else, you’re supporting a free-to-play game and getting some skins in return. Collection Events also remove the random element (if you’re buying every item, that is) that is associated with gambling and predatory monetisation. An heirloom costs hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of your life, or it costs 160 quid. Some people would prefer to splash the cash, and that’s fine.

However, at some point it might not be fine. As the recent Google Stadia news has just shown, sometimes digital services can just disappear. Stadia exclusive games like Gylt and Outcasters may soon be completely inaccessible, much like when streaming services remove films and television shows for tax reasons. It’s unethical, anti-consumer, and leads to some media being lost forever. That could happen to Apex.

I’m not doom mongering here. Warzone 2.0, the continuation of Call of Duty’s successful battle royale, will feature “brand-new progression and inventories,” according to developers Infinity Ward and Raven Software. They also say that the game will include a “continuation” of player progression and inventories, but it’s unclear at present what that continuation will be and how it does not contradict the brand-new aspects of the game.

Players who have put their time, effort, and cash into unlocking weapons, upgrades, and cosmetics in Warzone will have nothing to show for it come November. We expect the original game to be replaced in an Overwatch manner, so you can’t even stick to playing the old version to keep using your skins.

FIFA is the master of this in Ultimate Team. Every year players spend countless hours (in my case, it was four figures for FIFA 22) and throw away plenty of cash opening packs in the hopes of building The Ultimate Team. Then, every year, they start all over again. TheGamer’s Editor-in-Chief Stacey Henley has already made the case for FIFA to go full live-service, but why would EA do that when players are happy to start over annually and put in the same amount of time while spending the same amount of money?

Back to Apex. You’ve unlocked an heirloom or two for your favourite characters. It cost you a lot, but you were happy to do it. To support the devs, to keep the servers turned on, to get a cool sword, it doesn’t matter why. But one day, if Respawn stops supporting Apex in favour of 2 Apex 2 Legends or Titan4ll, all that investment will be for nowt. Yes, you’ve had plenty of fun looking at your funky spear or bubble-gum distributing wrench over the years, but now all those pixels you’ve bought are gone. Never to be seen again.

The same can’t be said for unofficial props. Head over to Etsy or a similar site, and you can easily find replica heirlooms of varying prices. Some look to be extremely high quality, for cosplayers and such, and can set you back three figures. Bloodhound’s axe is generally on the cheaper end, being small and having no moving parts, but heirlooms like Revenant’s scythe or Valkyrie’s spear can cost nearly £200. It’s a lot of money for a life-sized toy, but it’s probably better value than spending all that cash on Apex Coins instead. If these heirlooms break, you can fix them. If Apex goes offline forever, you still have them. Hell, if you get into financial trouble, you can sell them on.

Not everyone wants props, I get that. I don’t particularly care for video game tat myself. I’d rather buy a bag of week-old dog shit than a Funko Pop. But even Funko Pops’ soulless eyes are there forever. A Funko Pathfinder can’t get shut down, its servers can’t go offline. In an age when huge companies are shutting down live-service games and film studios are removing shows for tax breaks, spending money on cosmetics seems incredibly wasteful. Some of the skins look great and it’s hard to resist the next battle pass when it has over 100 cosmetics for the price of dinner at a restaurant. But Apex is a first-person shooter, so you can barely see those cosmetics. And the bigger problem is that they might not be there forever. What use is a £200 heirloom in a discontinued game?

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