With 200 million registered players, nearly 80 million of whom play regularly, Forntnite is the most popular game of the moment. Conversations about 'skins' dominate the schoolyard and even parents are swept along in talk about V-bucks, Victory Royale and Ninja. But now Apex Legends seems to be a threat.
The game, developed by Respawn Entertainment, works almost the same as Fortnite. A large number of players are dropped on a land mass and the last remaining player is the winner. The game is also free to play and the developer earns money through visual purchases. Think of new colors for a gun or a new outfit. Such a 'skin' costs a euro or ten.
No one - except the developer and a handful of other people - had heard of the game until February 4, when it was suddenly available to everyone. At the same time, the developer launched a sponsored collaboration with many streamers on the video platform Twitch. The result was a textbook example of viral marketing.
Hundreds of thousands of viewers watched the streams. According to many, the best player - an American named Shroud - had about 120,000 viewers, a record. The game was then massively downloaded. 2.5 million players the first day. Ten million on day three. 25 million after a week. Even the developers did not expect it. 'I am amazed', tweet main developer Vince Zampella.
But how is a game that came out of nowhere so incredibly popular? We asked Ward Geene, game expert and esports expert. "Most battle royale games have been developed by small developers. As a result, there are fewer means to immediately set up a very strong game. The battle royale mode of Fortnite was also an experiment when it came out and as time went on there was more and more content. ''
That is different at Apex Legends. Developer Respawn Entertainment has been set up by people who have put 'Call of Duty' on the market. With this experience they made the game 'Titanfall' and with resources from that game Apex Legends is now made. "Those guys know how to make a fat shooting game. Not only visually, but also in terms of 'feeling', explains Geene. The basis of the game is therefore strong. "In addition, the game came out simultaneously for the three largest systems of the moment: the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and the PC. That also had a big share in the growth. ''
But the game also tries other, refreshing things that Fortnite does not have. "Apex Legends can only be played with three players. Playing a game solo or with four men is not possible. In addition, there are several playable characters, each with their own skills. '' For example, there can be played with a robot that has a special towbar, with which it can move quickly over the battlefield. Respawn Entertainment chose to make the playable characters also culturally diverse, so the game appeals to a larger target group.
In addition, Apex Legends has introduced a 'revolutionary' communication system. Through 'pings', players can clearly communicate with each other without saying a word about the microphone. "You also see that the game is 'finished'. It just works incredibly well, "Greene says.
Will it soon be no longer about skins in the schoolyard? "I do not think so," says Geene. "Apex appeals to a different target group. I think it mainly scores with a somewhat older target group and children continue to play Fortnite. But that is an assumption. There is - fortunately - a market for both. Fortnite might provide something, but the share of Epic Games (the developer of Fortnite - ed.) Remains gigantic. ''