Last week - without warning - Respawn Entertainment, the developer of "TItanfall," entered the forge, and released a free-to-play Battle Royale game titled "Apex Legends." Although I was skeptical at first - because it seems like developers are just hopping on the Battle Royale bandwagon these days - I started playing, and within minutes nothing was the same.
The fast-paced first-person-shooter carries attributes of other popular titles like "Destiny" and "Overwatch" with no fall-damage, and a cast of eight characters with unique abilities and regenerative "ultimates" that, when used, can change the course a game. Not only does this make Apex very fun to play - but also exciting to watch - which has been evident in the twitch viewership from throughout the week.
Upon release, Respawn paid top-streamers like Timthetatman, Dr. Disrespect, Shroud, Ninja, among others - to stream the title, which quickly captured the attention of the gaming world. These same streamers continued to play even after the payment period was over - because they were hooked - and twitch viewership continued to rise into the 500 thousands, as Fortnite began to drop below 100 thousand for the first time in months.
For most - this sudden explosion of a brand new Battle Royale creates more questions than answers. Is Apex a game-changer? Can it be an ESport, and will Respawn be able to continually adjust the game to maintain the attention of today's players? On Monday, Apex announced on twitter that it had 25 Million users in the first week. Yesterday, Twitch Rivals ran a star-studded tournament, with top players from NA and EU competing for $200,000 in prizes. Certainly this evidence alone is not enough to call it an ESport already, but it seems to me like there's strong plan in place.
If Respawn can nail down some essentials - like allowing cross-platform play and possibly duos and singles options - in addition to the trios that is currently the standalone game mode - Apex is here to stay. At its core, the game is extremely fun and captivating. Users play to compete and to WIN, and that's what lies at the heart of every great Esport.
Catch me in the Arena.