Apex Legends has been something of an overnight phenomenon. A relative secret, known only to Respawn and EA insiders, the game launched without the usual marketing procedures. Its instant success even made EA’s stock and interest in Titanfall 2 skyrocket.
So what is going on and how did it happen?
What is Apex Legends?
Apex Legends is a new Battle Royale game, set in the Titanfall universe. It’s free-to-play, while still featuring gorgeous graphics, smooth game play and entertaining cooperation. Much like PlayerUnknown’s Battleground, aka PUBG, and Fortnite, each game takes about 30 minutes to play.
But the game also borrows elements from games like Overwatch, as teams are made up of three players with three difference characters, or legends as the game refers to them. There are currently eight legends to choose from, each with different abilities and powers, fulfilling roles in the team like damage dealing, support, tanking, or healing.
At the start of each match, there are areas of contention, where the best gear can be found but also the most other players poised to gun you down. The circle closes at regular intervals, forcing players closer and closer together. The winning team is simply the last one left standing.
It’s already had its first esports tournament and has instantly become the biggest and most popular on Twitch.
Just how popular is it?
Within a week of launching, Apex Legends hit 25 million players, with 2 million playing concurrently over the first weekend. A mere month after launch, and a short month at that, the game has already hit 50 million players.
By comparison, PUBG took six months to hit 10 million players and Fortnite hit 45 million players after 16 weeks. While both games are still wildly popular, with Fortnite recently celebrating over 10 million concurrent players, the reality is that gamers only have so many hours in a day to play, and Apex Legends’ rising star could mean lower sales or hours played on other titles.
At this rate, Apex Legends should overtake Fortnite’s impressive 200 million player count. To put this in context, the 2019 Super Bowl attracted 98.2 million viewers. Considering that the Super Bowl is one of the most watched broadcasts in the world, the popularity of Battle Royale games shouldn’t be understated.
What does this mean going forward?
For many, it appears that Apex Legends was the perfect combination of gameplay features introduced at the right time. But could this kind of success be replicated? It’s hard to say.
Apex Legends appeals to a broad range of multiplayer fans. Whether players enjoy Battle Royale gameplay, or the varied options presented by the different kinds of characters, Apex Legends taps into a multitude of rising genres in gaming.
With the marketing budget of other AAA game releases, EA is clearly invested in the success of Apex Legends. Players can probably look forward to continuing content releases, esports tournaments and community outreach.
Just as PUBG survived the success of Fortnite, Fortnite will probably survive the success of Apex Legends. While their player bases might decline, it’s other multiplayer games like Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Battlefield that will likely lose out the most on sales.
Considering how quickly Apex Legends has exploded in popularity, think of how wide-spread Fortnite has become in pop culture and replace it with Apex Legends to imagine what the future might hold. Streamers will appear at major events, merchandise will become widely available and you’ll see plenty of outraged news pieces moaning about gamers being addicted to the experience.