Razer is suspending its “Paid to Play” promotion beginning March 1, according to a post on its message boards. As part of this program, Razer rewards its customers with a digital currency called zSilver for launching PC games through the company’s Cortex software. You could then exchange those points for Razer products. Paid to Play debuted last March, and it has since awarded 1 billion zSilver — and customers have redeemed more than 35,000 rewards.
Razer didn’t explain the specifics of why it is suspending the service, but it did say that it is in reaction to outcries from the community. The company has carved out a significant business for itself with a lengthy list of hardware and software tools for gamers, esports pros, and broadcasters. It is also one of the top sponsors of esports events and teams. But it is now rethinking its approach to its core audience.
“We’re always listening to the community, and everyone’s feedback is important to us,” reads the forum post. “With an increasing amount of negative feedback on the Paid to Play program, we’re going to be taking a hard look into the overall program and mechanics to do right for you and all the gamers who participated.”
But while the program is in review, Razer is saying that it will shut the program down indefinitely if it can’t find a “satisfactory solution.” I’ve reached out to the company to ask for more details — especially about the negative feedback, and a spokesperson said they didn’t have any comment on the negative feedback.
It’s possible that some people think this is an attempt for Razer to sell people’s personal data and gaming habits, but chief executive officer Min-liang Tan explained that’s not the case.
“To be absolutely clear, we do not profit a single cent from Paid to Play in any way,” Tan wrote in a separate thread on the Razer forums. “There are no ads, no revenue model, nothing. It’s basically a cost center for us to give back to the community.”
Tan mentioned that the negativity has reached a somewhat frightening level. While a lot of people are complaining about the program, Tan mentioned that he’s even seen some death threats.
I’ve looked through the forums, and the negativity seems to originate from a price increase to redeem rewards. Here’s how one fan put it.
“I loved the program,” Razer forum user Eishun wrote. “While not defending the threats, its understandable why people are so mad. All of the prices in the store suddenly increased by 40 percent. People who have been working for months, who have reached their goal, suddenly pushed back at least 3-to-4 months away.”
For its part, Razer did explain to GamesBeat that it was unhappy with the lack of games that worked with the Paid to Play program. Only Dota 2, League of Legends, Paladins, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Overwatch earned a person zSilver. Razer also wanted to offer up a wider variety of rewards.
A Razer spokesperson explained that the company does intend to continue tweaking with how people can earn zSilver and how they can spend those points — although it has nothing to announce at this time.