The surprise coordinated launch of Apex Legends on Feb 4 has resulted in over 25 million players over the course of its first week, with over 2 million playing concurrently.
Electronic Arts studio Respawn Entertainment has upended expectations with the launch of its battle royale game and Fortnite rival, Apex Legends.
After having accumulated 10 million players in three days (2017's Fortnite: Battle Royale did the same in two weeks), its new 25 million unique player count puts its at over 10% of Fortnite's 200 million, January 2019 total.
In addition, Fortnite reached a concurrent player count of 2 million after three months, albeit in a less mature battle royale market.
That's not to say Apex Legends is or will be bigger than Fortnite, nor that the latter has been dealt a killer blow, but Apex has shot out of the blocks unlike even the genre's premier title.
Set in the same universe as Respawn's previous Titanfall and Titanfall 2, Apex Legends dumps the giant walking tanks of its predecessors and, with two years of development behind it, dives into the free-to-play arena.
A season pass system, optional cosmetic alterations, and instant character unlocks provide revenue for Respawn and its label Electronic Arts, learning from the commercial successes of Dota 2, Overwatch and Fortnite.
Landing simultaneously on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC, Apex Legends doesn't have the spread of Fortnite, whose studio makes a widely accepted game development suite and released its game on Nintendo Switch, Android, and iOS as well.
But with Respawn's lineage stretching back to the first Call Of Duty game, Apex occupies a space between the approachable, cartoon-style and play of Fortnite, minus construction abilities, and the more aggressive way in which genre spearhead PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds presents itself.
Apex Legends has a varied range of characters for players to choose from, overlapping abilities for teams to take advantage of, and an unusually context-sensitive yet pleasingly simple smart comms system that helps squads coordinate movement, share equipment, or simply say thanks, all without the need for a microphone.
The surprise Apex Legends announcement and release also shunned traditional months-long marketing ramp-ups (see Electronic Arts' Feb 22 title Anthem), instead favouring a powerful, coordinated influencer campaign upon release.
A selection of high-profile videogame streamers, especially those typically associated with Fortnite and PUBG, were invited to a pre-release preview and engaged in sponsored streaming around the game's launch, further boosting exposure; two days of streamer-centric tournaments now run Feb 12 and 19 on Twitch TV's Twitch Rivals channel. – AFP Relaxnews