Apex Legends, one of the most popular PC Battle Royales, came out in February 2019. The game’s different take on the genre led to a rise in popularity. Apex Legends reached 2.5 million players in just a few days. The game had 10 million players in under a week, growing exponentially to 25 million just over a week after its launch. It then hit 50 million players in March 2019. By October 2019, it reached 70 million players. Now EA is slowly setting their sights on the mobile market. The success of titles like PUBG, Call of Duty, Fortnite and Garena Free Fire on mobile is a positive sign for the shooter genre and is a lucrative platform for developers and publishers to tap into a much bigger playerbase.
Apex Legends Mobile’s Timeline of Developments
In May 2019, EA had hinted that Apex Legends would be coming to mobile but had not given us a definite timeline. A year after the game’s release, EA confirmed that they were planning to release a mobile version in 2020. The company said that they were working that they are working with a Chinese partner to build a mobile version of the title. Many speculate that this partner could be Tencent. EA’s Chief Financial Officer, Blake Jorgensen was quoted saying “Rolling mobile out in China, you need to have a partner, and we're working with a partner there, and we're very excited about the opportunity. That partner is also helping us develop a mobile Apex for the globe. More to come on that in terms of timing.”
In June 2020, in a video leaked on Twitter by ‘Apex Legends Mobile Latest Leaks’, EA CEO Andrew Wilson is heard talking about Apex Legends coming to mobile with a ‘soft launch’ by end of 2020. In the EA Fireside chat, Wilson talks about mobile titles and their growth. He mentions, “We have PvZ3 (Plants vs Zombies 3) in soft launch, we’ve talked about having Apex Legends in the soft launch by the end of this year. You’ve heard me talk about various other games in incubation or production”.
While Apex Legends had planned to release its mobile version in 2020, the global pandemic forced Respawn to postpone the release date.
Will Apex Legends Be Able To Compete With Free Fire and PUBG Mobile?
A soft launch means that Apex Legends coming to mobile will only be available for a limited test, either in terms of a few selected users or select markets before the full launch. With Apex Legends coming to mobile, it might eat into the numbers of PUBG Mobile and Free Fire in South-East Asia.
In the mobile battle royale arena, PUBG Mobile can be considered the OG Battle Royale. The game is more life-like with each player starting off on an equal footing while on the plane, relying on their own strategies and skilful aim to win that coveted Chicken Dinner.
Garena Free Fire lets players unlock characters with special abilities that boost character stats like increased vest durability, increased movement speed etc, so the strategizing begins before the match even starts. However, certain features of the game like auto-aim and biometric scopes lowers the skill floor. Apex Legends is similar to Free Fire in the sense that each character has a unique set of abilities and a slightly similar futuristic vibe. The game’s first-person only perspective, special equipment, respawn option and smaller 60 player lobbies do set it apart. However, just looking at the gameplay will do a disservice to Apex’s smoother, higher-quality graphics and unique character design.
Since there is no official gameplay footage for Apex Legends Mobile, its hard to speculate how much of the core gameplay will be retained. However, as Apex Legends is a technical game with a huge map, especially since the addition of the World’s Edge in Season 3, it is expected that some older versions of the mobile devices may not be compatible upon release. However, Respawn will definitely want to accentuate the differences if it wants the game to stand out in the mobile battle royale arena. As of now, Apex Legends fans will have to make do with the crossplay on Xbox One, PS4 and Origin on PC.