Elite Dangerous announces ships available for purchase, faces backlash

Elite Dangerous faces accusations of pay-to-win with the announcement of available ships to buy via in-game currency.
Elite Dangerous Python MK II screenshot. Courtesy Frontier Dev UK
Elite Dangerous Python MK II screenshot. Courtesy Frontier Dev UK /

For nearly a decade, Elite Dangerous has remained one of the premiere space exploration sims available to video gamers. The developers have made consistent changes to keep the game active, boasting nearly 2500-3000 monthly players to date. News broke on April 24 of a major change that immediately sparked some fan backlash. Ships will soon be available for purchase with real currency.

In a post on the Elite Dangerous website, it was announced that the Python MK II ship will sell for 16,250 ARX, which is equivalent to $12.99. Early access to purchase the ship will be available on May 7, with Odyssey expansion owners getting access on August 7 via credits, which is the in-game currency. Other players will be able to access ship variants via ARX from the in-game store.

Pre-Built Ship packages will also be available, with sets including upgraded versions of base models.

“We envision these Pre-Built Ships to be a quicker way for newer players to get involved in the areas they have the most interest in, or for our existing players who are considering a new career path in game, but do not have time to devote to a new build from scratch,” the release said.

This change has sparked play-to-win accusations. Currency was originally available via daily play and taking part in events in-game. The ability to use real money to skip that process has caused veteran players to respond negatively.

“It's ridiculous enough that you have to pay IRL money to do any sort of ship customization in a game you have to pay money for, but adding paid-for ships, once again in a game you have to pay for, is unacceptable,” said Reddit user Endulos.

This move to produce revenue for one of Frontier’s most popular games has sparked backlash because it turns around a previous statement from 2019 in which the developer said: “ARX can only be used to buy cosmetic Game Extras and will not be used to introduce and acquire pay-to-win purchases.” But as with many things in gaming, that statement may have been true in 2019, but things have shifted five years later in 2024.

Frontier Developments is known for creating several popular simulation games including F1 Manager, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar - Realms of Ruin, Jurassic World Evolution 2, and more.