A major shakeup is coming to Rocket League’s player community. The popular car soccer game will turn off the option to trade items starting in Season 13, destroying the vibrant market around buying and selling cosmetics in the process. Fans appear universally shocked, confused, and frustrated by the move.
The last day to trade items in the Epic-owned free-to-play game will be December 5, the day before season 13 goes live. After that, players will no longer have an option to share their favorite hats, rims, and exhaust trails with one another, or sell them on third-party marketplaces. “We’re making this change to align with Epic’s overall approach to game cosmetics and item shop policies, where items aren’t tradable, transferrable, or sellable,” developer Psyonix wrote in an announcement on the game’s website.
The studio said this shift “opens up future plans” to have some vehicles be owned across multiple Epic games. Presumably, you might buy the Ghostbusters Ectomobile once in Rocket League and then be able to use it in Fortnite as well. The ability to transfer items between seperate games is a big part of the promise and challenge underlying pitches for a gaming “metaverse” made by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney and others. At the same time, it’s not clear what the benefit of an “open” metaverse is if all the transactions are still routed through Epic’s in-game shops. Sweeney has previously blasted companies like Apple and Google for creating closed platforms that don’t offer users choice.
Item trading was added to Rocket League seven years ago in the Rumble update. The approach to random cosmetics that dropped after matches was similar to Valve games like Counter-Strike and Team Fortress 2, both of which have also cultivated lively and lucrative second-hand markets for in-game items. Some Rocket League players just trade with friends for fun or to get rid of duplicate items, while others try to amass collections that can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Lending is also a big part of the community around Rocket League’s in-game economy. Players might agree to share rare items for a set duration of time before giving them back.
In its FAQ about the changes, Psyonix stressed that players will still be able to trade their duplicate items back to Epic for a shot at another random cosmetic of a higher rarirty, but that all current trades will be final after December 5. At that time, “Websites or servers advertising such services are fraudulent and have no connection to Psyonix or Epic Games.”
The reaction by the Rocket League community so far has been surprise followed by swift condemnation. “RATIO FOR MY ALPHA BOOST,” tweeted pro player Tristan “Atow.” Soyez. “Killing the game even more good shit lads,” tweeted Finlay “rise.” Ferguson. The subreddit for the game is also in shambles. “Epic Games was supposed to be this huge thing for the game, and all they have done is increased Esports prize money and made it more global,” reads one top comment. “They have basically said ‘fuck you’ to the casual community since they bought Psyonix. Removing trading is genuinely the stupidest idea I have ever seen.”
The announcement comes after parent company Epic Games recently announced 860 layoffs, impacting Psyonix, Fall Guys maker Mediatonic, and other parts of its growing Fortnite empire. Sweeney told attendees at an Unreal Engine conference that it wasn’t until “about 10 weeks ago” that the company realized it was having financial troubles that would apparently need to be addressed so quickly and drastically. It’s not clear if Psyonix was already planning to remove item trading from the game prior to these cuts.