Apex: Legends has had one of the most successful and impactful launches in gaming history. But rather than focusing on the game itself, I wanted to answer one simple question that is on everybody’s mind: “just how long will this game stay popular?”
There are certainly a lot of gameplay features that ensure Apex: Legends will stay popular for the foreseeable future. The most notable features that make this game truly stand out amongst the competition are:
• Sophisticated and effective pinning/communication system
• Rich character/legend personalities and dialogue
• Class based system with a retinue of unique skills and mechanics
However, there are a few notable issues with the game that poses a serious risk to the longevity of the game. While the game was recently released and therefore natural tweaking will be made to improve the gameplay experience, there are some issues that are endemic of how the game was designed. The biggest issue I see is regarding the class system and the learning curve associated with it. While players may only play one or two legends at most, in order to be competitive at the game, they will need to know the mechanics and features of each class in order to properly play against them. Make no mistake, this is good game design. But given the nature of battle royale games, it’s not a design that the majority of the playerbase will want to dedicate their time to.
In Fortnite, the most intense learning curve is the building aspect of the game. However, this is a skill that is learned and improved upon in every game played. In Apex: Legends, the learning curve is based around having to play many games on many different types of legends. This leads to a large time investment without any guarantee that the game will have an active playerbase for any extended period of time.
There’s also the issue of balancing when dealing with different classes and different weapons. In Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), the developers are able to balance the game through tweaking the stats of the different weapons in the game. Apex: Legends will have to inevitably do the same but will also face the challenge of balancing the classes too. This makes the process of balancing only that much more difficult.
One question that many players seem to be asking is, “is this the next Fortnite” or “will this game ruin Fortnite?” And I think this is the wrong question to be asking. Apex: Legends has a long ways to go before it can be considered in the same league as Fortnite. While more than 25 million people have downloaded the game since its launch, that rate won’t be sustainable.
I believe that whether or not Apex: Legends remains a popular game in the battle royale genre isn’t determinant on just it’s own merits alone. The big question mark that will play a crucial role in Apex: Legends long term success is how other battle royale games react to this new kid on the block. While Apex: Legends has very unique and much needed quality of life features, there is nothing to stop other game from simply adding similar features to their own game. The short-term success of Apex: Legends could also mean that Call of Duty Blackout (Blizzard’s take on the battle royale genre) might go free to play to compete with the likes of Fortnite, PUBG, and Apex: Legends.
In the short amount of time since its been launched, Apex: Legends has proven that innovation in an already saturated game genre can still be rewarded with millions of downloads. It’s a head nod to other developers looking to craft their own battle royale games and is a sign that the battle royale genre is far from being dethroned as the most popular video game genre.