Executives from Electronic Arts have implied they’d like to bring their battle royale Apex Legends to mobile devices, mimicking the success of its competitors, Fortnite and PUBG. It might be a path to success, but mobile is no longer the untapped market it used to be, given the aforementioned battles royale got there first.
During this week’s quarterly earnings call, EA revealed it was in “advanced negotiations” to bring Apex Legends to mobile and China, says Polygon, meaning it’s highly likely we’ll see the Titanfall-based battle royale in both places shortly. It’s making the leap to mobile much faster than its competition, meaning in months instead of years. We’ve contacted EA for more information on the exact state of negotiations.
Apex Legends was a novelty hit when it first hit the market, and gamers who were eager for a change from Fortnite — the biggest and most over-exposed game that has ever existed — leaped on it. But while the player count was strong in the first few weeks, anecdotal evidence and Twitch viewer numbers provide pretty convincing evidence that the game is swiftly losing ground with gamers. EA said during the call the player counts were similar to what they were at launch, but that in and of itself isn’t encouraging — you’d expect them to have risen by now.
And, speaking diplomatically, the game kind of coasted on anti-Fortnite goodwill for a bit longer than it should have. Whatever else you can say about Fortnite, it’s constantly updated with fresh content, often at the expense of the developers who are making it, if the rumors are to be believed. Developer Respawn said recently it wouldn’t update Apex just to update it, but to instead focus on quality and avoiding crunch — direct shade thrown at Epic Games if I’ve ever seen it. But whatever its reasoning, Apex‘s tapering fanbase made one thing clear: the novelty was wearing off.
This is where the move to mobile makes sense, particularly since it’s worked so well for other battle royale games up to now. While mobile Fortnite gamers have never outnumbered PC or console players, putting the game on mobile — and essentially, everywhere — was one of the smartest moves it could have made. Fortnite being ubiquitous meant it could target the widest possible audience, and the spoils its reaped from that decision are probably what’s fueling the Epic Games Store buyout coups. Apex needs fresh blood, and mobile gamers are clearly open to battles royale on phones.
As for what mobile Apex would look like, it might be difficult for certain mechanics, such as the complex ping system to translate to mobile. It’d face the same problem as the game did in its PC launch — it’ll have to differentiate itself enough from Fortnite and PUBG to attract an interested audience. That said, I’m more optimistic than I would be for other companies: EA’s previous mobile titles include the likes of Sims Mobile, Bejeweled, and Plants vs Zombies. Clearly at least some of its developers know how to make a good mobile game.
Now if only it could do something similar for poor old Anthem.
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