Regardless of where you go online, it’s nearly impossible to escape coverage of one of the most successful recent video game launches in history, Apex Legends. The latest free-to-play (F2P) multiplayer game in the battle royale genre from developer Respawn Entertainment and publisher Electronic Arts (EA) took the industry by storm after amassing an impressive 25 million players in just the first week after launch. Those numbers are nearly unheard of in the video game industry.
Now, after having only been out for less than a month, critics and industry analysts alike are already beginning to ask if EA’s latest game could be a “Fortnite Killer.” But with so many other battle royale style games on the market like Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), and even a Tetris battle royale, what sets EA and Respawn’s Apex Legends apart? The answer comes down to one word applied across multiple verticals: innovation.
While EA is no stranger to mishaps in the gaming industry around some of their marketing and sales tactics in the past, Apex Legends was different. One of the most impressive aspects about the release of Apex Legends is the marketing campaign that accompanied it (or lack thereof). Unlike most other popular video games before it, there was no big media campaign or push before release.
Instead, the company opted for a more subtle approach to releasing the game. On February 4th, the day of Apex Legends’ release, and the days following, the once unheard of game instantly rose to the number one spot on uber-popular live streaming site Twitch. Even today at the end of February, Apex Legends continues to gather more than twice as many viewers as Fortnite on Twitch. That’s all due to an innovative marketing strategy from Respawn and EA that hasn’t been done before. According to an EA spokesperson in a statement released this month:
“We had a multipart marketing program running for Apex Legends that tapped into some of the most popular and wide-reaching content creators in the space. After midday Tuesday, Feb. 5, all Apex Legends streaming content has been organic.”
EA and Respawn Entertainment decided against big advertising campaigns and chose to instead sponsor some of the largest content creators on popular sites like YouTube and Twitch to play the game on release in front of their millions of viewers. After two days of paid streaming, it became clear to streamers that the game was catching on and many viewers were playing as well. As a result, popular streamers and content creators continued to play Apex Legends to maintain their viewership numbers without continued compensation from EA or Respawn — the perfect formula for a successful launch and continued exposure.
For large companies like EA especially, the key to staying ahead of the curve is continuously innovating and that’s exactly what they’ve done with Apex Legends. Valuable and insightful marketing implementations don’t happen on their own and the nearly $30 billion company is certainly at their prime not just in marketing, but in the game too. EA’s recent success in what appeared to be an otherwise saturated genre shows just how important innovation is and how companies in every industry can leverage proper innovation management tactics to give themselves a competitive advantage.
Innovative Game Mechanics
EA’s marketing campaign success is evident on its own, but marketing alone can only take a company so far if the product itself is low-quality. However, marketing aside, Respawn’s Apex Legends was well-received by the gaming community. While many were worried about yet another battle royale game on the market joining the ranks of H1Z1, PUBG, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 – Blackout, and the leader of them all, Fortnite, gamers seemed enthusiastic about the innovative and refreshing playstyle Respawn brought to the genre. It’s clear that with the innovative “ping” system, the required squad play, first-person perspective, and fast-paced environment, Apex Legends offered players something new and enjoyable.
Combining a mix of Overwatch’s hero system, to Call of Duty’s squad-based royale formula, and everything in between, Respawn produced an entirely new take on the battle royale genre; the proof of which is already being seen in the numbers of players and viewers online. While it’s certainly too early to tell the future of the game and how it will stack up against big-name competition like Fortnite in the long run, there’s no doubt that Respawn and EA have been innovative with not just the game itself, but the way they brought it to consumers.
As a passionate gamer since the 1990s, Vadim has kept his passion alive since then, and he is here to cover video games news, as well as to share with you all the novelties out there regarding gadgets or games-related tech.