During its latest quarterly earnings call, EA revealed its intentions to treat Apex Legends as an “annual shooter.” Respawn’s battle royale game has been on a roll lately, with Season 3: Meltdown seeing Apex Legends reach a playerbase of 70 million, and its publisher has indicated it wants to build on that growth for years to come.
“We have heavily invested in live services the past 10 years,” EA COO and CFO Blake Jorgensen said on the call. “Obviously [Apex Legends] is a new live service which we will invest heavily in to try to continue to grow that business. We view that as an annual shooter franchise effectively and we’re trying to build that as a 10-year business … We’re very excited about the roadmap that the Respawn team has put in place.”
No one at EA clarified what this new designation for Apex Legends means. As a live service game, it’s unlikely–though not impossible–that EA plans to make Apex Legends into its own franchise with new sequels every year as Activision does with Call of Duty and Ubisoft used to do with Assassin’s Creed. It could be that EA plans to have large-scale, meaningful content additions each year. Although this makes the most sense and is in line with trends for live service games, this is speculation on our part.
That said, Jorgensen did reveal what players can expect to see in Apex Legends in the near future. “The key with [Apex Legends]–as is the case with any live service–is test and learn, test and learn,” Jorgensen said. “We’re continuing to add new events in each season to try and understand spending patterns and what people like to spend money on and how much they’ll spend. And we’ll then tune those events over time, so there’s going to be holiday-themed events, like [Fight or Fright], competitive-style events, gameplay-style events, and events associated with new characters or–as you saw in this new season–a new map.”
With Apex Legends being treated as EA’s new annual shooter, the publisher is pushing DICE off of the annual Battlefield and Battlefront track that the studio has been on since 2013’s Battlefield 4. Instead of immediately transitioning to Battlefield 6 or Star Wars Battlefront III, DICE will instead spend the next year focusing on developing new content and providing additional support for Battlefield V and Star Wars Battlefront II.
Ahead of the call, EA released a press release detailing the studio’s success with live service games this past quarter. “Strength in Ultimate Team, The Sims 4, and FIFA Online drove live services performance above our expectations,” Jorgensen said. “Looking ahead, we are doubling down on live services combined with our core franchises. We’re investing in games that people play for longer and engage with much more deeply. This focus will continue to drive growth and profitability for the company through the remainder of this year and beyond.”
Though EA is pushing for more games that will keep players invested for longer periods of time, the publisher isn’t completely done with traditional, single-player games. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order–a single-player game with no loot box microtransactions–is EA’s next major release, scheduled to launch on Xbox One, PS4, and PC on November 15. Fallen Order’s release will also mark EA’s return to putting its PC games on Steam, not just Origin.