Hey guys! Some of you may be Rocket League traders looking to figure out a surprisingly complex virtual market. Some of you may be relative outsiders curious as to why a virtual item has so much value. Regardless of why you’re here, I’ve got you covered! Let’s talk about the legendary White Apex.
The virtual cosmetic industry has been as explosive as a firecracker. Video games are becoming more immersive and popular with each new sunrise. It is becoming easier for gamers to desire fresh appearances for their favorite online games.
The microtransaction market is rapidly approaching a landmark of $100 billion in annual expenditure. In 2019, free-to-play titles alone accounted for $87.1 billion in microtransactions. That’s insane.
During that year, Rocket League rated 8th highest game for average customer DLC purchases – boasting an average of $60 per player spent on cosmetic items that year alone.
I apologize for pulling from year-old charts (maybe I need to get those 2020 polls rolling!), but I promise the game has only become more profitable. Rocket League now boasts a flashy new free-to-play business model. We also can’t rule out their new parent company, EpicGames, tugging a heavy-duty rope with consistent updates.
As you might have noticed, Epic’s golden child, Fortnite, ranked first on both lists.
Anyway, enough background statistics. If you’ve stumbled into this piece, chances are that you’re asking one or more of the following questions:
These wheels are bright, and they are simple. The delicate perimeter of the rim blazes with an illustrious glow that was unprecedented for their time. They have that unique hexagonal patch-styled tread, also unprecedented.
The Apex wheels ushered in popularity so immense that Psyonix began to race down a beaten path of one Sci-Fi glow wheel after another. Even with hundreds of imposters introduced into the market, their value still stands unparalleled.
I often hear the word “overhyped” thrown around.
I’m often asked, “They’ve become so valuable, why don’t you sell them?” to which I can only reply, “What would I even buy?” There is no other item in the game that would quench the same thirst for greatness.
Of course, they are overhyped. I know that. These wheels have an unmistakable legacy tucked behind that soft white burning light.
What makes White Apex wheels so much more valuable than a white FSL or a white Sovereign A/T? After all, there are plenty of other wheels that feature the same refulgent glow, right?
The secret is the way they were obtained.
I rifled through a few drab psychological whitepapers from sources that still seem pretty out of touch. I don’t know who pays these guys fat stacks of cash to come up with results like, “The major factors of making virtual purchases are item exclusivity, collectibility, and social appeal” but I’d kill for a piece of THAT action.
Something about that statement still caught my eye. There was no mention of actual appearance. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Just a few reports with sizable paragraphs about how the community as a whole would view an object. Items that grant social status. Items that help players gain respect, get players noticed, and overall increase their player-to-player interactions.
Most of our major updates lend themselves to increased social interaction. Among these updates were:
A healthy online player base is good for us, and it’s good for sales. They want us to sit in chats together and talk for hours about the items we respect. Word of mouth is a powerful influential force.
You’ve probably noticed that most items in Rocket League depreciate fast, though. A new item drops, it seems exciting for a while, then the luster begins to fade.
Psyonix has a mean way of throwing a wrench into the player-to-player market. They released Players’ Choice crates as a way to rehash hot items. White Zombas were a popular crate cosmetic milked into oblivion. Voltaics and Dracos suffered the same fate. They lost their exclusivity.
Psyonix introduced an item shop that can drop any hot item to the masses overnight. They introduced special editions of old wheels like Dracos, Saptarishis, FSL’s, and Spiralis to make our older items feel obsolete.
They are a business, after all. Anyone trying to leech off of their infrastructure for their own personal gain is going to feel that wrath.
Brief Fan Reward Overview:
To anyone who isn’t already in the loop, these items drop exclusively from watching a live stream of the Rocket League Championship Series. The seasons and brackets are well-defined. The divisions are fleshed out. They have relegations between leagues and sponsored teams that trade players. They have a crew of announcers like you would see on ESPN. Psyonix takes its Esports scene seriously.
As a spectator sport, RLCS measures up to be quite competent when compared to traditional sporting broadcasts. It instills deep within its viewership a dream to someday become pros themselves.
Bringing viewers in with fan rewards has more of a long-term financial effect for Psyonix, so they would be insane to devalue these.
The early days of twitch stream drops were a bit of an enigma. Gaming companies were still experimenting with the idea of linking accounts to things like twitch viewership.
Funneling cosmetic items from external sources was still a bit of an absurdity.
For the first two seasons, very few people even knew these items existed, and fewer people were tuning in to try and grab these rewards.
You could easily step into a lobby with a fan reward, and some of the most educated doctors in the science of Rocket League cosmetics (hailing from ivy league universities such as Harvard or Yale) would sit there perplexed and baffled by their sight.
The drop rates for these items were terrible.
I mean, they still are. An average viewer of a six-hour stream takes home two random items, with an 80% chance of getting an unpainted duplicate (painted rates have since increased by 5% though).
The process also requires a person to go out of their way to fill out a sign-up sheet on some random website – when they could just as easily be playing the game with that spare time.
To top it all off, the early RLCS streaming schedules were cryptic and needed to be researched just to tune in.
Now, I’m no world-renowned chef, but it smells to me like a recipe for disaster. Gordon Ramsay would at least have added a tablespoon of salt.
The few that were taking advantage of these exotic new fan rewards were linking multiple accounts to further abuse our negligence, often doubling, tripling, or quadrupling their chances of a rare drop. In some cases, one individual would have ten or more linked accounts. The added presence (acquired from cheating the system) gave these folks a ton of market control.
By season 3, we became a more knowledgeable audience. The peak viewership of the championship series was over 206,000 twitch accounts worldwide.
The elusive White Apex had a budding reputation. They were often regarded as the rarest wheel in the game.
It was estimated that after two full seasons of dropping there were 75-150 pairs of striker-certified White Apex on each platform. Certified wheel hunters considered these wheels to be the holy grail of RL cosmetics.
Speculation began to spiral downward to a wider demographic in search of more common uncertified wheels. These were still pretty tough to find, of course.
To put it in perspective: Apex wheels were one in twelve active item drops. The odds of a painted item were only 20% and 13 different colors could drop.
So, if 206,000 players were to watch the full stream during the finals (which I promise they didn’t), each of the 3 gaming platforms would receive an average of 176 new sets of White Apex – 44 of which would be certified, and roughly 3 would be certified as striker.
206,000 viewers that day… and 3 new sets of wheels for hunters to chase after.
During season 4, Psyonix noticed a reduced viewership and decided to refresh the fan reward list, as well as increase RLCS marketing – in hopes to achieve that same success they enjoyed during season 3.
In March of 2018, the announcement of new fan drops went live.
This was the beginning of a new trading era.
The word “Retired” entered the chat.
These old fan rewards were now discontinued items that could only be obtained by trading other players – and those players already had a solid grasp on how to control their market.
The Apex set proved a point to our Rocket League traders. Once a fan reward is discontinued, it will gradually climb in price over time.
Dune Racer decals? I remember a guy refused to pay me 4 keys for a lime variant (400 credits before the currency change). I bet he feels like an idiot now.
The list goes on. Aero Mages, Decenniums, Patriarchs, fan rewards are your safest bet for an item that inches upward in value. You’re looking at an established market for items with a reputation for illustrious rarity. If you’re here to be a better trader in Rocket League, that’s your cue: Take the money and run.
The fear of missing out is possibly the most heavily targeted human emotion by marketers worldwide. Together, we’re learning with haste that virtual goods are no exception. It’s easily one of the most colossal discoveries made during our generation.
One of the other great discoveries of our generation is that these virtual items can retain their value.
By this time, we had entered the age of the price sheet. Websites sprouted up and offered well-established price guidelines to follow. Trading hubs became commonplace in the community.
A new breed of profit traders who didn’t even play Rocket League started swarming in – hoping to profit real-life currency from a die-hard gaming community.
Rocket League isn’t the type of game where you clear the objectives within forty hours and move on.
It’s the type of game that rewards dedication and drive. It’s the type of game you can come back to at any point in time and know that your skills will be tested. Each 5-minute game of Rocket League is a thrilling roller coaster ride, a robust experience of constant finger-clicking, resource management, lightning-quick decision making, and comprehensive teamwork. It is the ultimate sports game experience.
Rocket League is the type of game we can always come back to. It becomes a tiny, rocket-powered escapist world that we can invest in. Some speculate that we are simulating enslaved gladiator battles and hailing to our egg overlords. With such devotion, the cosmetic market was destined to become a little bit absurd.
Within a year after retirement, White Apex wheels were sitting at a stable price equivalent to roughly $300 of in-game currency. It seemed set in stone that these beauties were king of the market. The RL trading market would never be the same. It was now evident that players around the world would spend hundreds of dollars on rare cosmetics.
Collectible items across the board began inflating in price.
Now, I know a handful of readers are going to be skeptics. There was a price dip. Psyonix announced that, for one weekend only, Apex wheels would be featured as drops again.
The crowd began to panic. Prices of Apex tumbled downward from 400 to 230 keys (a key was worth roughly a dollar).
You know what? They bounced back.
If anything, that only makes me more confident in their everlasting prestige. As an added perk, a lot of those external profit traders scurried onward to try their profiteering scandals in the field of CounterStrike. Good riddance. Profit trading isn’t necessarily a foul of it’s own merit. Still, I’d prefer to trade with people who enjoy the game, at least.
The price dip was pure market manipulation. Our virtual Wall Street had a relapse because some shepherd hailing from the bountiful plains of Iowa accidentally let loose a bundle of sheep he was conspicuously herding through the building.
An extra 200 sets of wheels weren’t going to have a lasting negative impact on a community that now boasts 75 million players.
White Apex had already established themselves as the most sought-after item in the game. They hit all the community checkboxes. They were vibrantly bright, neutral in color, and simplistic. Most importantly of all, they were widely acclaimed as the rarest wheel in the game.
Someone may own a set of White Apex. That doesn’t mean they’re willing to sell them.
Slowly, they inched upward.
Day after day, they continued to climb.
With the resilient tenacity of a big-horned sheep traversing the Rocky mountains, they continued to climb.
Psyonix issued a handful of bans to players hoarding multiple sets and selling for money outside of the game.
Psyonix issued a handful of bans to accounts associated with bots, scammers, and otherwise unfair trading practices.
White Apex began dwindling in availability again.
Word in the community was that Apex wheels were the safest investment in Rocket League.
On July 9th, 2020 White Apex reached the equivalent of $1000 of in-game currency.
As of writing, they are currently at a dip in price, $820 of in-game currency. All it takes is one desperate buyer, or a single man feigning to be a desperate buyer – they’ll climb again.
Maybe ol’ Danny the Shepherd let his livestock run amok again.
As a whole, fan rewards are now regarded as commodities. Time presses on and their value only continues to increase, through thick and thin. Psyonix places more care into developing these items than they do for their constant barrage of blueprint items. Fan rewards promote Rocket League’s core competitive scene. These items promote Psyonix as a brand.
These items are sacred. They are untouchable.
Sitting atop the throne on an ornate arctic mountaintop, sitting at the peak of the action, lie the original models. Always within sight but out of reach – except to the most dedicated of hunters. The infernal White Apex. The immaculate White Apex.
Runescape may have it’s blue party hat to show a player’s status, but we have White Apex. Honestly, who even plays Runescape anymore?
White Apex will remain atop that rugged peak for the entirety of the game’s lifespan. There isn’t a shred of doubt. Not anymore.