Apex Legends: A sincere thank you letter to EA.

Apex Legends by “Respawn Entertainment” hit the gaming market back in early Spring 2019 and was an immediate hit. Some of the most renowned Twitch streamers contributed to its outburst as they were paid to stream the game in front of their mass audiences. Seeing as the game Fortnite, which was at that time the most played and streamed game, was in the subgenre of games known as “Battle Royale”, Apex Legends also being a “Battle Royale” caught the eyes of many gamers too. A battle royale could be described in simpler terms as The Hunger Games, in which a certain amount of players fight till there is only one man standing.

Game Review

            Apex Legends by “Respawn Entertainment” hit the gaming market back in early Spring 2019 and was an immediate hit. Some of the most renowned Twitch streamers contributed to its outburst as they were paid to stream the game in front of their mass audiences. Seeing as the game Fortnite, which was at that time the most played and streamed game, was in the subgenre of games known as “Battle Royale”, Apex Legends also being a “Battle Royale” caught the eyes of many gamers too. A battle royale could be described in simpler terms as The Hunger Games, in which a certain amount of players fight till there is only one man standing.

            Apex Legends is a futuristic first-person shooter, which was different than Fortnite’s cartoon like third person shooting style of game. Still, a lot of people migrated over to the game to give it a try. What made the gameplay great was its smooth controls and fast paced action. There were 7 characters at the time of release, now 9, which possessed cool abilities which could be used offensively and defensively. Additionally, the game could only be played in teams of 3, which added a whole new dynamic as a lot of other games in the same genre (Fortnite, PUBG, COD Blackout) were all played in solos, duos, or squads of four. A couple of other minor details made a big difference in gameplay too, such as when you would die, you could be respawned back in by a teammate, which was a feature that no Battle Royale had. The pinging system also made it easy to identify enemies, loot, care packages, etc. Overall, Apex Legends had a very unique flow to its gameplay. It promoted fast paced action and rewarded offensive types of players. The game, upon release, was surprisingly very balanced and there were no exploits and glitches, which is very rare in today’s games. Perhaps what made the game truly special, was the movement. Players were able to sprint quickly, but could also slide. Combine this with guns that are precise and fairly easy to use, it’s no wonder so many people were able to jump right in and get used to it quickly. Lastly, the guns in the game were very similar to a previous title, named “Titanfall”, which was also developed by Respawn Entertainment. These were not your typical military assault rifles that you would find in Call of Duty, Battlefield, or even Fortnite, but were rather futuristic and highly advanced weapons. All of these minor details in the game ultimately added up to allow Respawn to separate themselves from their competitors.

            It was clear that in the first couple of months that Apex Legends was very close to passing Fortnite. So much so in fact, that it came extremely close to passing Fortnite as the number one game streamed on Twitch. Fortnite evens started to copy certain features from Apex, namely the reviving and pinging features. To the Apex Legends players, myself, it was clear that this was an act of desperation so they can pull back away from Apex Legends in terms of popularity and gameplay mechanics.

Business Model

            Unfortunately, the beginning of downfall for Apex Legends came when the battle pass was released for a whopping $13 USD. The way the battle pass works is that one would pay X amount of dollars to obtain the right to obtain level up rewards. There were about 100 levels, and each time you leveled up, you would gain a reward. You certainly didn’t have to purchase this; it was only for people who wanted to get more in game items. The issue was that the rewards were underwhelming to most people. For a little while, there was lots of backlash for the battle pass with people saying that it was a waste of money. The developers at Respawn Entertainment listened and took note but couldn’t do anything in the present moment. However, because the gameplay was still proprietary in its own, people dismissed the poor release of the battle pass, toughed it out, and patiently waited for the season 2 battle pass while still having fun with the game.

            With the release of the season 2 battle pass, it would finally seem that all the developers did listen to us. They delivered a much more complete battle pass by including a lot of more unique weapon skins, currency packs and character banners. Additionally, leading up to season 2, they started implementing weekly challenges which would further yield unique weapon and character skins once completed. There were also big changes to the map, as they decided to add a dinosaur theme to the entire season which also had an effect on the map, we played the game in. These positive changes in the game would be quickly disregarded as EA would soon come in as the party pooper.

            It had been months since people started to ask for a solo mode in Apex Legends, and being the great developers, that Respawn Entertainment were, they obliged and decided to introduce the solo game mode through a special event. Little did we know the impact this would have on the game though. Respawn Entertainment rolled out their solo mode event in mid-August, and immediately, it caused massive outrage. Why? This was because with the event, came a new bundle of unique character and weapon skins, the most sought after being a tomahawk which could be used by a certain character. Keep in mind, these are all only cosmetic items, meaning they had no effect on the actual gameplay nor did they give the player any sort of advantage. However, to obtain this tomahawk, you would have to spend around $200 USD on loot crates in order to then have the choice of buying the tomahawk for an additional $40 USD. This was assuming that you got no repeat items and were able to collect all 20 required items in the first try of each loot crate opened. This was called a “paywall ”, which meant that you had to purchase previous items before unlocking the best item, which was a way for big companies to siphon the most amount of money from its consumers. As a community, everyone knew this was not the work of Respawn Entertainment, but rather, it was the doing of EA.

As seen, to obtain the tomahawk item on the bottom left corner, you would have to purchase all 20 items on the bottom right hand side ($20 USD each).

            EA already had a bad history with micro transactions with some of its previous games, namely “Star Wars battlefront”, where a YouTuber demonstrated that it cost around $2000 USD to unlock all of the in game cosmetic items in that game. EA tried to amend the current issue by allowing you to purchase the required items for $20 USD each, which resulted in the net payment to be even more than before! Now, you would have to pay close to $400 USD to unlock the opportunity to purchase tomahawk, which was still around $40 USD! Immediately, everyone took to Reddit to voice their opinions. The community became toxic and although most people pointed their fingers at EA, some pointed them at Respawn Entertainment, making threats and wishing death upon them. Online backlash is extremely common nowadays, and usually, the right way for a company to respond is to not respond at all, assuming it’s just hate speech, or to respond in a professional manner. This did not happen however, as some of the developers at Respawn Entertainment decided to respond in a derogatory and condescending manner, further cornering themselves. Eventually, this became the hot topic in the gaming community, as everyone was at fault. EA tried to get as much money from us, while Respawn Entertainment and the fans were being extremely toxic. When the event ended, seeing as it was a limited time event, most of the roaring died down and most things went back to normal. Today, without the event, the only thing that remains is really just the season 2 battle pass and the occasional weekly challenges Respawn Entertainment will add.

            Seeing all of this go down in real time, made not only me realize, but also a lot of my friends and people online, just how greedy EA is. They continuously put their customers in precarious positions and it almost seems as though they do not consider their fan base at all. They have a poor track record, and yet they continue to tarnish it more and more as if they don’t care. Is this ethical? Should something be done about this in a legal standpoint? For now, it seems that because EA is at the top, that no one can really stop them. They have their feet in so many games because a lot of these upcoming games, such as Apex Legends, need the backing of EA in order to break into the market. Perhaps the only way to prevent EA from doing this, is for another gaming industry titan to spawn and surpass EA.

Final Verdict:

            It’s unfortunate that EA, a big company, had to swoop in to completely ruin a fanbase and turn people against each other. Prior to the influence of EA, Apex Legends was the pinnacle of Battle Royale and was loved across all platforms. However, after EA instigated this mess, even though they themselves weren’t the ones name calling, by implementing ludicrous prices for cosmetic items, they’ve still stuck to the same practices while most of the fanbase, myself included, have long left the Apex Legends community. Today, they continue to slash the prices of in game skins to try to retain their fanbase, but to no avail. The game has not bounced back since this reckoning.

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