By all metrics, Apex: Legends has been a monumental success. With over 25 million downloads, the game has virtually established itself overnight as one of the main battle royale games in the industry. But perhaps its longest lasting legacy will be something not related to anything in-game at all.
Emulating the same practices of a pop-up shop, the game was announced and released to the public on the same day. In an age where games have become available for purchase in just the early access phase and kickstarter campaigns for games that haven’t even been developed are selling in-game goodies for as high as four figure price tags, the decision to announce and launch Apex: Legends on the same day is a much needed deviation from the norm.
Specific to the developers of Apex: Legends, Respawn Entertainment, this launch strategy was especially helpful. It’s parent company, EA Games, has been in the hotseat of the gaming community for quite sometime now. When players see the announcement of a new game, many instantly become wary when they see the EA logo attached to that new game. For Respawn Entertainment, keeping their game under lock and key wasn’t simply a innovative strategy: it was arguably a necessary one.
While beta and alpha testing are crucial to the development of a video game, there are a medley of issues that can arise from these tests. One doesn’t need to look further than the recent Ashes of Creation debacle to see why. In short, the company developing Ashes of Creation decided it was best to release a modified version of their upcoming MMORPG to the players in the form of a battle royale mode. This was intended to solely test class skills and the combat system moreso than anything else. But when players saw that the modified version released to them was a battle royale gamemode, many players had taken to online forums to protest that they had been tricked into buying into a MMORPG game when really it was a battle royale game. All the while, this was never the intention of the developers.
Had the developers of Apex: Legends announced a closed beta test of a new battle royale game rather than announcing the release of the game , it’s connection to EA may have doomed the game before it would even reach the hands of players. Now that the game is released and the game can be judged not on speculation but on the reality of how the game plays, a more accurate assessment can be made by players. Obviously, this assessment has been largely positive.
That being said, Respawn had the advantage of taking the game engine of one of their previously released games (Titanfall) and adapting it to make a new type of game altogether. Most game companies are not so well-supplied. For most developers, the use of crowdsourcing platforms such as Kickstarter are not only a useful marketing technique, but a necessary step in gaining funding for their projects. Because of this, the likelihood that we will see other developers follow a pop-up shop type of game release strategy is slim at best.
This accomplishment alone is what truly makes Apex: Legends stand out. Although it is not the only major battle r, it has no other rival in the way the game was launched to the public and likely won’t for quite sometime. For Apex: Legends, their ingenious marketing strategy that led to their current state of success was that they did no marketing at all.