- The excellent new Battle Royale game “Apex Legends” is the biggest game of 2019 so far. It attracted over 50 million players in its first month of availability.
- The game has been available for nearly three months at this point, and it’s still excellent – but it’s losing momentum as major video game streamers move on to other games, including “Fortnite.”
- The CEO of the studio behind “Apex Legends,” Respawn Entertainment, chalked up recent issues to the difficulties of handling success on such a large scale.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
More players, more problems – that’s the long and short of the growing pains experienced by 2019’s biggest game, “Apex Legends.”
Going from zero players on March 3 to over 50 million players by April 4, the game was explosively popular in a way that few games are. It outpaced huge blockbusters like “Minecraft” and “Fortnite,” even.
But with that type of growth comes major growing pains.
“We didn’t expect it to be as big as it was. I don’t know how you can prepare for that, right? We’re still figuring out internally what the cadence of content has to be, and how we support it,” Respawn Entertainment CEO Vince Zampella said in an interview during the annual GamesBeat Summit conference this week.
“When you get that many people stress-testing the game, you find flaws that you just never imagined,” he said.
Indeed you do.
As someone who’s played “Apex Legends” nearly every day since launch, I’ve encountered an inordinate amount of bugs. Nearly every day, the game crashes out to the PlayStation 4 dashboard at least once mid-game – often during moments where a lot is going on.
In practice, that means the game is most likely to crash when I’m fighting off enemies with my teammates. It is an inopportune time for a crash, to say the least, as it also potentially ruins a match for my teammates who are suddenly outnumbered. Still, the game is so good that I continue playing it daily.
But those bugs are causing another, bigger problem for “Apex Legends”: A lack of regular content updates to the game.
“We’ve been firefighting, fixing things,” Zampella said. “And we’re going to put the focus back on those quality of life issues and make sure everything’s perfect before we start to build more content.”
In so many words: As the team at Respawn focus on fixing bugs, they’re forced to pause working on new content that could help keep players invested.
Since launch on February 4, a single character has been added to the game’s roster. A “Season Pass” was introduced, but it adds very little to the experience of playing “Apex Legends.” You’ll unlock the occasional bauble or loot box, but otherwise it impacts the game very little.
As a result, the game feels somewhat stagnant – and major video game streamers who helped bolster the game’s launch have largely moved on.
Look no further than popular Twitch streamer Mike “Shroud” Grzesiek. His latest YouTube video lays out his position pretty directly:
The same could be said for Herschel Beahm IV, known for playing as “Dr. Disrespect” on Twitch. He’s largely returned to games like “Fortnite” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” across the past few weeks – games that directly compete with “Apex Legends” in the wildly popular Battle Royale genre.
The game has also dropped in rankings on Twitch’s most-viewed games list.
It was regularly featured in the top 10 games on the world’s most popular game streaming service for the first month after launch, but has recently dropped below.
Zampella is seemingly aware of the issue, and said as much during the interview.
When asked about Respawn’s communication with fans, he said that Respawn had gone “a little dark because we’re figuring out internally what we need to do,” and that the studio is ready to re-engage with fans.
The full interview is a fascinating look into how a game studio deals with suddenly having the most popular game in the world, and you can see it right here:
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