Respawn’s Apex Legends is in a bit of a pickle.
Having had one of the best launches in history, boasting over 2.5 million players in just one day and a whopping 50 million after its first month, just two months later, things are looking very different.
Revenue had fallen by 74%, and viewership on Twitch had plummeted to just 10 million hours per week, compared to 40 million when the game launched. The game’s most popular streamer, Shroud, also announced that he was “quitting the game forever“.
The long-awaited Season 1 Battle Pass released in May, but did little to stem the tide of deserters, no thanks to its lackluster offerings.
Can Apex Legends be saved? Time is running out, but it’s not time to call “gg” just yet.
Here are the three steps we feel Respawn needs to take to save Apex:
- Fixing the many issues
- Have dedicated esports servers
- Provide equal opportunity for all players
Fixing the many issues
Apex Legends has been plagued with bugs and server issues since launch. To get players to come back, the first thing Respawn needs to do is fix the game.
One of the biggest technical issues that needs fixing is Apex Legends’ slow server performance. It’s one of the most frustrating issues players complain about.
Slow servers lead to unfair player deaths. At the start of the round, matches often stutter for minutes, and lag causes guns to behave erratically. In a first-person shooter game where speed, responsiveness, and fluidity are important, lag takes away all three from players.
Compared to PUBG and Fortnite, Apex Legends has the highest network lag on average, at nearly two times higher for damage and movement compared to Fortnite. Gunfire network lag was three times higher than Fortnite, according to analysis done by Battle(Non)Sense.
Since launch, mechanical issues have been piling up in Apex Legends. Patch updates that solved old issues created new ones. Many bugs were potentially game-breaking, ruining the experience of many players.
One of the early bugs in Apex Legends was the slow movement bug. The bug caused players to move slowly after being revived rather than at the normal movement speed.
A month later, a new bug surfaced. Twitch streamer Dizzy found a bug that kept his character in the air, allowing for unending flight across the map. Dizzy deemed the exploit “bug abusing” and returned to the match shortly after.
Another bug was found on the map’s Supply Ships. The hatches were killing players who entered them as shown in a clip posted by redditor, u/c_thunderhorse.
The most recent bug players have encountered is random bullet spread while sliding and aiming.
“Half of Apex” involves sliding and shooting, “so … yeah,” said Twitch streamer Shroud. “Literally the whole game is ruined”.
Lack of content
In the three months since Apex Legends’ release, there’s been one limited time event, one new hero (Octane), and one new gun (the Havoc energy rifle). The Season 1 Battle Pass added a handful of skins, badges, and trackers, but was generally poorly received for its lack of new content.
The Battle Pass was also criticized for not providing players with much to do. The only way to advance the Battle Pass was to play games. There were no daily or weekly challenges and many players felt burnt out by the long XP grind.
Respawn’s slow pacing was intentional at first, to maintain maximum balance in the game. We made “less frequent, better tested, higher impact balance changes,” said Respawn.
In comparison, Fortnite is constantly adding new content to the game.
Every week, Fortnite is updated with new items, weapons, and limited time game modes. Fortnite’s Battle Pass also includes daily and weekly challenges that reward XP, making the grind less tedious.
For Apex Legends Season 2, Respawn will be adding daily and weekly challenges.
The next step in saving Apex Legends is introducing dedicated esports servers.
Without an option for custom games, Apex Legends tournaments, even officially sanctioned ones like the FACEIT Pro Series: Apex Legends tournament, are run in public matches. Running a tournament on a public server means that the outcome can be influenced by cheaters.
Professional team, SKT T1, ran into this very issue in the first week of the FACEIT Pro Series.
SKT T1 were eliminated from one of their games by an aimbotting cheater, which cost them points and prize money.
For Apex Legends to become a credible esport, it needs dedicated servers. Teams have no reason to join a tournament where hackers could cause them to lose.
The final step in Apex Legends’ growth is providing equal opportunity for amateurs and professionals to be a part of its esports scene.
Attracting more players to Apex Legends would boost its player base and build up interest in the game’s esports scene. Currently, only professional teams with the backing of esports organizations can participate in Apex Legends’ esports scene.
Learning from Fortnite is a good strategy. The Fortnite World Cup is accessible to all players, easy to understand and has a flexible schedule catering to adults and children. Key points which attract many gamers to join the World Cup.
The World Cup’s player restriction is not strict. Only players under the age of 13 or those with penalties from breaking Epic rules are forbidden from joining.
Winning the World Cup is straightforward. Participation in tournaments is rewarded with points according to Epic’s scoring system, with the top ranking teams qualifying for the World Cup Finals.
The schedule of the World Cup is flexible enough to cater to children and adults. The online qualifiers are always available for players to hop in and progress in points. The online Semi-Finals and Open Finals happen on Saturdays and Sundays too, allowing working adults to freely participate.
Creating a tournament like Fortnite’s is a sure way to attract the attention of more gamers. Riding the attention will help raise Apex Legends’ esports scene to greater heights.
Apex Legends is a new game. It may be demanding to implement so many changes but Apex Legends faces competition from gaming giants like Fortnite and PUBG.
For EA to stay in the arena and be champion, Apex Legends needs to quickly push forward with the right actions to stay alive.