'Apex Legends' Draws 10 Million Players in First 72 Hours

Apex Legends-Publicity-H 2019
Courtesy of EA
The quick success of Respawn Entertainment's free-to-play Battle Royale title comes as parent company EA's shares drop up to 19 percent in the stock market after a disappointing earnings report.

Look out, Fortnite. EA and Respawn Entertainment's free-to-play Battle Royale shooter Apex Legends is off to a hot start since launching Monday.

According to Respawn CEO Vince Zampella, the new game has been played by more than 10 million users in its first 72 hours and topped 1 million concurrent players.

"We hoped you’d love it as much as us, but never in our wildest dreams could we have expected the outpouring of support and positivity we’ve seen," said the exec.

Apex Legends came as a bit of a surprise to many fans when it launched earlier this week. Respawn, best known for the Titanfall series, had been mum on the project, with many thinking it was working on Titanfall 3 (Zampella said on Twitter that the company is still working on a Titanfall title for later this year).

However, the lack of fanfare did nothing to slow down the game's quick momentum and fans have noted the tweaks the company made on existing Battle Royale gameplay features as major positives, particularly Apex Legend's "ping" system of communicating with other players and the team aspect of the game.

Apex Legends is a free game to download and play, but it also offers in-game microtransaction purchases and will offer a Battle Pass, which allows players access to exclusive cosmetic items earned through gameplay, which will be available to purchase when the game's first season officially launches in March. That model follows the success of Epic Games' Fortnite, which became a cultural phenomenon last year and generated $2.4 billion in revenue in 2018.

Many have tried to emulate Fortnite's success, with Battle Royale gameplay modes appearing in AAA titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 and even Red Dead Redemption 2. However, the quick success of Apex Legends and its innovations in the Battle Royale formula may signal a new, very real challenger to Epic Games' juggernaut.

Respawn is owned by parent company EA, which reported Tuesday that its third-quarter earnings had come in under expectations due to the weak sales of last year's Battlefield V. As a result, the company's stock took a significant hit as shares fell up to 19 percent. That downward trend also affected other video game publishers such as Take-Two Interactive and Ubisoft, despite the latter actually beating revenue expectations thanks to the massive success of Rockstar's Red Dead Redemption 2.