Apex Legends has lost its huge momentum

Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

Apex Legends had the smoothest and most successful launch of any battle royale game. While games like Fortnite took months to build up a player base and a Twitch presence, Apex shot to number one in its first day. But a lack of updates, a litany of bugs, and some fierce competition has destroyed Apex Legends’ launch momentum.

In the first month of its release, 50 million players downloaded Apex Legends in search of a new battle royale experience. At launch the game offered a laundry list of accessibility features and quality-of-life improvements (like smart pings or squad respawning) that make the complex genre more approachable. Since then, Apex Legends has stagnated.

Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

Apex Legends was smooth until the game’s first patch went live. What was intended to be a simple bug-fixing update instead introduced a host of new glitches. These bugs introduced unintended abilities like player flight and malfunctioning guns. All these issues were sorted out over the course of a couple of days, but it set all the wrong precedents.

While minor bugs are part of any major video game patch, Apex Legends’ issues recently crossed a line. Respawn’s latest patch for the game, Update 1.1, reset players’ account progress as soon as they logged in.

“Everything gone, Legends, Skin, Statistics and all Currency besides Apex coins I really hope they can fix this otherwise this will be really bad,” said Reddit user P3RrYCH of their deleted account. A few hours after the patch went live, the developer shut down its servers and eventually issued a new patch that reverted the lost progress.

What makes these issues worse is that the patches themselves aren’t meaningful. Apex Legends has only had about three total balance patches or adjustments outside of bug fixes and almost all of them have been nerfs. Two months after release, Apex has added just one new character and one new gun. Fortnite’s v8.10 patch had three major balance changes, reworked the game’s vending machines — an important way to get loot — and added a new vehicle along with reworked animations for healing.

This may seem like Respawn trying to get the hang of updating a battle royale game, but the slow pace is intentional. According to a post that went out along with the game’s first balance update, Respawn doesn’t want to change Apex Legends often. “We make less frequent, better tested, higher impact balance changes in order to minimize the impacts on your time spent mastering the game,” Respawn said. Rather than upsetting the meta by shifting around what’s powerful and what isn’t, the developer would prefer to release carefully balanced and tested patches. The result is very few balance changes, and some very buggy patches.

So far, these infrequent changes don’t seem to be resonating with players. Respawn released player counts after its stratospheric launch, but it’s been quiet about the recent player numbers. While we don’t have official numbers there are a few anecdotal ways to see how the game is doing. If we take Twitch for example, it’s easy to see the drop off of Apex Legends viewers.

Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

According to twitchmetrics.net, Apex Legends enjoyed an average of around 200,000 concurrent viewers for its first couple of weeks, but since has dropped to an average of around 50k. A few select streamers, like Shroud, can drag the game back up toward the top spots, but for the most part, the streaming community has moved back to old staples like League of Legends and Fortnite.

Without the excitement of fresh content, players are losing interest in Apex Legends. Fortnite, which remains the undisputed leader in the battle royale genre, is the perfect counter example to Apex Legends slow-and-steady strategy.

Epic updates Fortnite every week. A new weapon or item comes to the game at least every other patch, along with new game modes, and points of interest on the map. In patch v8.30, Epic added an entire respawn feature to the game, the new Fly Explosives game mode, and the Buccaneer Bounty event, all just a week after a new weapon was introduced. It’s a breakneck pace, but it’s designed to always give players something new to do in the game. Compared to Fortnite, Apex Legend’s pace feels glacial.

Image: Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts

What makes things worse for Apex Legends is that Epic keeps using the game as inspiration for Fortnite’s updates. Just a few weeks after Apex Legends’ release, Epic lifted the ping system that helped make Apex stand out at launch. Toss in the aforementioned addition of respawning in Fortnite and it’s clear some of Apex Legends’ biggest innovations are no longer unique.

Another sticking point for the game has been its cosmetics. The arrival of the Apex Legends Battle Pass last month seemed like an opportunity for Respawn to show off the exciting rewards it had created. But the cosmetics weren’t exciting at all.

No one was pumped about the stat trackers, character lines, and poses that fill the Battle Pass. “This battle pass is trash (the rewards you get) can’t recommend it to anyone,” said Reddit user, JUST_NYASHKA. What’s worse, getting each reward from the Pass is a grind that requires more XP than some of the game’s highest account levels. With no challenges, the pass doesn’t ask you to go out of your way to try something new. Instead, the release of the Battle Pass meant playing the same game the same way you’ve always been playing it.

While all of these issues sound dire for Apex Legends, the truth is that it’s actually pretty normal. These are the growing pains that you didn’t hear about for Fortnite and PUBG because they didn’t get millions of players in their first two months. For those games, the developers found what worked over time and helped to make them the best they could be through consistent improvement. Given enough time, perhaps Respawn will be able to do the same with Apex Legends. Battle royale fans will be watching them every step of the way.

Comments

Plus a big thing for Fortnite is that they gave the Season 8 Battlepass away if you completed a certain amount of challenges during the Overtime event in Season 7. The Battlepass always contained a good chunk of stuff, might not always be the best but it’s definitely easy to level through it and definitely worth is every time.

Season 8. This is a few weeks into season 1 of Apex.

So, every time a new MMO would come out for a solid decade, players would try it out, and then complain that it had fewer features or less to do than World of Warcraft. And every time, the fanboys would say: "World of Warcraft has been at this for years. This is a new game. Give it time."

But you know what? Nobody gives it time. Because nobody wants to wait for features to arrive a few months from now that are already in a game that is available to play right now. And that is why very few of those MMOs were able to survive.

Apex is a direct competitor to Fortnite, which is a mature and very popular game. If it doesn’t have as much cool stuff as Fortnite, then people will just play Fortnite. So these games have to have a ton of cool stuff out of the gate and they have to add stuff at the same pace as the games they hope to compete with. Or, to put it another way, if you come at the king, you best not miss.

Fair points, but I don’t think there only needs to be one BR game and have that be it. The competition will help everyone. Just b/c it doesn’t beat Fortnite feature for feature right off the bat doesn’t mean anything in the long run. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. It’s just another option of where to spend time.

Fortnite and Apex both have 100+ hour battlepasses that must be completed over a period of a couple of months. Most people do not have time to finish a single pass, let alone both. Both these games want to occupy all your time, and it is very much am either-or choice.

I think Dan makes a pretty convincing point. This isn’t a battle for survival, it’s a battle for dominance. Both Apex and Fortnite want 100% of people’s attention and they design their games to require just that.

I think it’s actually very apt to compare it to the MMORPG craze of the 2000’s. There were plenty of games that came out to challenge WoW, but in the end, none of them mattered after the initial surge of popularity wore off. I must have heard "This is the game that will take down Wow!" a thousand times in highschool and college. And while you could/can still play those start up games, it was clear that WoW was never really hurt by any of them.

Apex is a direct competitor to Fortnite, which is a mature and very popular game. If it doesn’t have as much cool stuff as Fortnite, then people will just play Fortnite. So these games have to have a ton of cool stuff out of the gate and they have to add stuff at the same pace as the games they hope to compete with. Or, to put it another way, if you come at the king, you best not miss.

So what you’re saying is:
"Aim for the head."

Except Fortnite has terrible game play. Its a game held up in the same way a lot of youtubers are held up. 10-14 year olds with terrible taste in everything.

A terrible argument to begin with, solely due to the "10-14 year olds"

Please don’t let your personal bias towards BR games conflict with facts. If you had included extra reasoning beyond "kids hur hur", would’ve made you credible.

Disney is marketed towards family and kids and they are held up probably by kids who are funded with their families. I would guess Disney has terrible IP according to your logic? "10-14 year olds don’t know anything haha"

I hate BR style games too, but immaturity like this makes me feel bad about the type of ppl who say they represent gamers

Wow so many baseless assumptions.

I like BR games, I really like Apex and PUBG but Fortnite is a poorly designed game. Everything about it is clumsy, the game mechanics are subpar, and when you get past the nice art direction there’s really not much there. And whether you want to admit it or not the combo of free and cartoony graphics is a perfect storm to attract kids.

You lost credibility because you claim pubg is designed better than fortnite

I think they’re working on their server latency/NetCode and cheating as priority number 1 right now IMO. There’s still a lot of audio latency ( i.e. not hearing footsteps or audio cues) and heavy latency with firefights going on.

I really hope the next pass is way better as it indeed is awful.

Now that you’ve read the entire article …

"While all of these issues sound dire for Apex Legends, the truth is that it’s actually pretty normal."

Seriously, I hope the game sticks around. It’s fun. It’s unfortunate that not having a new shiny every week is the worst thing ever when the gameplay itself is a great hook.

Exactly. I mean, it’s hard to tell right now if future updates will actually improve upon where it is already, although i’m sure it will, but what’s the old saying? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?
Why do we need new and shiny things?
If using the metric of Twitch is the only way to tell if a game is failing or not, god help us.

I don’t think the issue is the lack of "new" things, but rather no one is copying the challenge/progression system from Fortnite. This gives people a thing to do inside a game where only at best 4/100 can win. Some people enjoy grinding away just on that merit alone, but a lot of players the little minigames you can play inside Fortnite keep people coming back and staying.

but rather no one is copying the challenge/progression system from Fortnite

You mean, Dota 2?

I think MOBAs are different animals entirely, and Fortnite certainly isn’t the first to do "challenges". It’s the context of the genre and it’s competition that I’m referring to in this point.

I dunno, I don’t really want a challenge system. If they add one, I hope it’s really well considered.

I don’t want to be matched up with teammates trying to grind out Mozambique kills or something—I want teammates that are at least ostensibly trying to play well and win the game.

Sure, but how can you say that with a straight face in the current state of BRs. Again, at best 4/100 win. Even then, watch how lobbies drop and how quickly 30+ die. I’d wager at least half the lobby isn’t trying all that hard to win any given game.

Apex is 60 players, since you keep saying 100

I’m not saying Apex specifically, but rather the BR genre. I’m aware of the differences between all the big BR titles in the market right now and Apex being locked to 20 teams of 3 doesn’t change the fact that most players in a BR lobby don’t win or seriously try to win.

I agree, the game is a lot of fun to play. However I do feel there’s not a very large variety of guns to use in the game. After playing for a few hours every day it does become a bit stale

TwitchCon EU
Shroud got hurt, and he was driving a good core of viewership for Apex. So it was not in Twitch Rivals events.

Firestorm came out. Lots of new game releases (Sekiro).
Blackout new map, free month.

Even Fortnite is down overall, even when the Fortnite big channels stopped playing Apex. January they had 130k-190k avg viewers. Past 30 days has been 105k-164k. You can see the bumps in viewership during bigger content drops or during events.

Apex still is 5th for most viewer hours in the past 30 days. There are 10k people streaming Fortnite while Apex is 2nd with ~4k.

What Ninja, tyler, soda, shroud, lirik and more are playing defines the viewership for the top 10 watched games.

Firestorm and Division 2 have my complete attention. Sekiro mocks me from time to time as well

Epic updates Fortnite every week. A new weapon or item comes to the game at least every other patch, along with new game modes, and points of interest on the map. In patch v8.30, Epic added an entire respawn feature to the game, the new Fly Explosives game mode, and the Buccaneer Bounty event, all just a week after a new weapon was introduced.

I feel really bad for the people making this stuff so quickly.

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