Escape from Tarkov Unheard Edition Warehouse Shootout
Image via BattleState Games

Can Escape from Tarkov Recover? Thoughts From an Early Tarkov Supporter

Make your voices known, true believers... deafening silence.

In this generation, gamers easily remember the good and the bad times, especially for games that have lasted for several years. For a very long time, Escape from Tarkov has given millions of players one of the first PvPvE extraction shooters, solidifying itself as the pioneer of the genre. Early supporters of the game saw the extraordinary potential of the game, as it is truly in a league of its own. Players flocked and lobbied Escape from Tarkov within their friend groups and got a firsthand view of its consistent growth over the years. It was one of those rare games where its player base and concurrent users kept increasing with every wipe and update for nearly a decade.

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Everything was going great, even with all the road bumps, such as consistent roadmap delays, server issues, and more. All the supporters stayed, trusted, and continued to support because they believed in the game’s vision – Nikita’s vision… until it all came crashing down in the blink of an eye. Here’s the story of Escape from Tarkov’s biggest mistake and if they can ever recover from this from the perspective of a long-time Edge of Darkness supporter.

The Dark Side of Tarkov

To add an additional perspective to those who only recently got into the game, there were already signs of indifference through Battlestate Games’ lead developer, Nikita Buyanov. There is even a whole website dedicated to tracking all of the game’s completed, compromised, and broken promises.

While some can argue that most of these compromised and broken promises happened because we were never used to a developer being completely transparent, we still don’t want to get lied to. Nikita Buyanov always wanted to have open communication between them and the players by regularly streaming big announcements and holding Q&As with the community.

Aside from their own broadcast, Nikita regularly talks with the game’s biggest content creators. This has always been a gift and a curse to the community as we were always led to believe in whatever is coming next to the game we all love.

We always let small things slide, such as promising major updates and new weapons that were pushed way back. Some are quite big, such as promising no more wipes after the initial release or adding a global 2FA or phone number verification, but most of us let them slide.

There comes a point where players can no longer hold Nikita true to his word anymore and instead hope for the best, because they simply love playing Escape from Tarkov. Even for those who complained and brought the issues up again and again, the majority of the player base always had sympathy, because we all know Nikita is only doing what is best for the game since he always showed passion for his game. Little did we all know that he was capable of something deserving of so much contempt – the $250 Unheard Edition.

Why Was the $250 Unheard Edition So Bad?

For those who have never played Escape from Tarkov, you might think the steep price is what has the community up in arms. In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with putting a $250 price tag on a more premium edition of the game, as long as the base game is affordable and the rewards from the other editions don’t compromise players playing on an equal level.

The only problem is that they already had a $150+ Edge of Darkness edition, which excluded taxes and additional fees. Players had no issues spending that much for an amazing game, especially knowing that they would have unique features as a reward for supporting the game during its early stages. By releasing another edition almost twice the price of the Edge of Darkness edition, Edge of Darkness owners felt betrayed because of what their official Twitter account posted back in 2017.

Escape from Tarkov’s official Twitter/X account replied to a concerned user who was worried that they would have to buy the game again after the beta on April 11, 2017.

“You do not need to buy anything at any stage. If you have EOD, you do not even pay for DLCs in the future. You are all in for it all coming.”

@tarkov on X (Twitter)

To top it all off, before they announced the Unheard Edition, they previously announced that Edge of Darkness would be on sale and removed from the store. They added a timer for it, which they would constantly extend because players had that constant fear of missing out on a good deal.

It can’t get any worse than that, right? Well, it has, as the Unheard Edition adds many exclusive features and benefits that give players an extremely unfair advantage over other players who don’t have the Unheard Edition. Keep in mind that, at this point, the game is still in beta. It is safe to say that players who were livid after the announcement are completely justified.

After the backlash, all the top Escape from Tarkov content creators voiced their opinions about the Unheard edition, but it was actually difficult to see any single creator approve of this change. There was a video by LVNDMARK, one of the biggest Escape from Tarkov streamers, who reacted to the news on stream and caught something very off-putting.

As he was reacting to the previous contents of the Edge of Darkness edition, he noticed that they changed the wording during his stream, which makes you wonder if the developers were watching his stream to try to prevent further backlash by changing some of the contents within their Edge of Darkness product. The changes were removing the words “such as Escape from Tarkov: Arena” for EOD owners and removing “Unique” from the secure container (3×3 cells).

This wasn’t an attempt at peace, but it is a breach of trust between the players, especially EOD owners, and Battlestate Games.

Battlestate Games’ Multiple Attempts at Peace

The keyword here is “attempts”, so you know you are going to get more controversial takes.

This section will be shortened; if you want the full version, you can access Nikita Buyanov’s Reddit profile and look at all his posts back in April 2024.

To sum it all up:

  • They tried to give more P2W features and access to offline PvE for 6 months to EOD owners.
    The community was dissatisfied.
  • Nikita triples down and claims the PvE game mode is not DLC. EOD owners get a 50% discount on Unheard Edition.
    The community was dissatisfied again.
  • Nikita finally apologizes, saying, “I am very sorry that fans and the game community in general are experiencing these feelings.” PvE is now available to every EOD owner for free, but it’ll come in waves until server capacity can handle it.
    The community is mostly gone at this point.

There was also a leaked interview between an Emissary and Nikita Buyanov, in which Nikita said, “It is to understand who are the true believers”. I cannot comprehend how you could make this statement after all the backlash, especially how players like myself shelled out $150+ for the EOD Edition on an unreleased game and believed in the game’s success.

If Nikita’s previous statements weren’t enough to put the nail in the coffin, this probably will.

What Would it Take to Bring Players Back?

Following the aftermath, two competitors entered the playing field – Arena Breakout: Infinite and Grey Zone Warfare. Both games experienced some huge spikes in viewership and concurrent players while Escape from Tarkov took a massive blow to their playerbase.

Some players still stick to Escape from Tarkov, but the damage has been done. I haven’t touched the game ever since, but after seeing Arena Breakout: Infinite and Grey Zone Warfare, I might give those two a shot.

However, Escape from Tarkov’ is truly one of a kind. It isn’t farfetched to get their players back by introducing another wipe with polarizing updates. I don’t think that wipes would be enough to gain all the players back, so it would take a lot more. Trust is forever gone because this whole debacle will be brought up for every negative minute detail Battlestate Games announces. Every promise or future plan will be taken with a grain of salt.

The biggest way to resolve this issue would be a change in leadership. We all know Escape from Tarkov is the best extraction shooter out there, and most players will choose to sit it out by principle. Players are even refunding the game they have thousands of hours playing. The refunds were initially denied by Battlestate Games, but when they approached their banks, they issued the refund under very strict consumer protection laws (depending on your region). Yup, some banks considered this to be a fraudulent and false advertisement, so some players got a refund.

This is not a good sign to bring the players back, because players are actually escaping from Tarkov this time. It is still sad to see this happen, and the more time they take doing nothing to appease the players, the closer we approach the downfall of Escape from Tarkov.

As someone who has played upwards of 2,000 hours on the game, I feel like I already made the most out of my purchase, especially the friends I play it with. If the game has a great update or wipe and my buds are playing as well, I’ll probably go back to it. If the P2W features stick around, I doubt we’ll be back for it. Then again, my main problem has always been the cheaters plaguing the game, but that’s another issue.

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Image of Enzo Zalamea
Enzo Zalamea
Enzo is a staff writer at Prima Games. He began writing news, guides, and listicles related to games back in 2019. In 2024, he started writing at Prima Games covering the best new games and updates regardless of the genre. You can find him playing the latest World of Warcraft expansion, Path of Exile, Teamfight Tactics, and popular competitive shooters like Valorant, Apex Legends, and CS2. Enzo received his Bachelor's degree in Marketing Management in De La Salle University and multiple SEO certifications from the University of California, Davis.