EA’s Apex Legends Gets Insane 10 Million Players in 3 Days, Can it Become Bigger than Fortnite?

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The Canadian gaming giant saw its stock rise by 16 percent on Friday, after announcing that Apex Legends, it’s Fortnite competitor had gained 10 million players and 1 million concurrent players, 72 hours after it was released, and the fans seem to be loving it.

“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,” Vince Zampella, head of Respawn Entertainment, developer of the Apex game noted in the post.

Electronic Arts Inc. Stock Price Rose Sharply. Image from Tradingview.

As announced in the celebratory post, the free-to-play game’s results are quite staggering, as it took Fortnite: Battle Royale, two weeks to achieve that same threshold. However, one crucial fact is that Epic Games, Fortnite’s publisher, had to build from the ground up. Apex Legends has a battle royale fever to leverage on, which is a plus for any developer.

Speaking on the accomplishment, KeyBanc Capital Markets believes that the market was different for Fortnite 2 years ago, but EA could have a gem in its hands.

“It’s unfair to compare the two, because the market for battle royale was clearly very different 12-18 months ago, but regardless,10M players is quite an accomplishment.”

MISSED EARNINGS

EA’s shares had fallen more than 14 percent last week after its CEO Andrew Wilson announced weak fiscal third-quarter earnings. EA had reported earnings of $262 million for Q3 2018 and a revenue of $1.29 billion as against wall street estimate of $1.38 billion, revealing a shortfall of $90 million for the gaming giant.

The company’s earnings were however up, at $1.95 per share compared with an estimate of $1.94 per share, per data from Refinitiv.

Wilson had complained about the “intense competition and transformation change” that was affecting publishers in the video gaming industry and then adding that it was difficult for the company to “gain momentum” or “meet our sales expectations.” By intense competition, Wilson was referring to Fortnite, whose revenue for the period was $2.4 billion compared to EA’s $1.29 billion

While Fortnite has been giving EA a run for its money, the Canadian game maker has a lot in its tank not to moan as it’s chief executive did last week about missed earnings. Some self-inflicted wounds could have been prevented by the publisher if it had kept its act together.

DELAYED RELEASE OF BATTLEFIELD V

Battlefield V, the latest iteration of EA’s biggest title was delayed way beyond necessary in the heated weeks that led to Black Friday. Wilson believes the company could only play catch up with the likes of Fortnite and Call of Duty due to a “longer development cycle.”

“A combination of a poor start in our marketing campaign together with what I think was a longer development cycle that put us into a more competitive window and the amplification that competitive window against some of those underperformance factors is how we resulted in Battlefield.”

Beyond marketing and its delayed release, EA had promised consumers a Battle Royale mode. Battlefield posted disappointing sales in the last quarter, selling 7.3 million units compared to management’s estimate of 8.3 million units.

POOR MOBILE GAMING RESULTS

Mobile gaming accounted for 10% of the company’s sales in 2018, and it will be a significant focus in 2019, but the game’s publisher has been struggling in this category. It’s recent launch of Command & Conquer: Rivals, a real-time PvP strategy game, failed to catch on with gamers in an industry dominated by Clash Royale and Clash of Clans. The excuse? Games take an average of three years to climb the mobile gaming category. The fans seem to be disinterested with this title, with some claiming the game is another Clash Royale copycat that doesn’t offer anything new.

BEYOND APEX’S 10 MILLION USERS

Now that shares are up, EA has a new title to build on. Apex Legends is shaping up to be the perfect response in EA’s fight with Fortnite, one of the most successful titles of all time, in the industry.

Apex’s success is a result of word of mouth. While the developers established a live stream of the game on day one, which ended up being one of the most watched streams on Twitch, other streamers have introduced the game on popular social networks and messaging apps like Discord.

Beyond the insane early player signups, Apex Legends is still not competing with Fortnite. First off, the publisher needs to make the game available on every major platform. So far, it’s only available to players on PC, PS4 and Xbox One. Mobile and Switch gamers are not invited. Then there’s a small problem with the player cap. It currently has a limit of 60 compared to Fortnite’s 100 players.

Apex is using hero shooters mechanics, where each player gets a hero shooter with unique character abilities. Each hero has a passive, active and ultimate ability. This is a significant departure from Fortnite’s unique building mechanics, where users can create ramps and entire structures to protect themselves and create traps for enemies.

Apex has had its share of hiccups, as players reported difficulty with EA’s Origin server on Thursday. This made it difficult to launch Apex Legends and join friends online to play.

For a game that wants to go head on with Fortnite, whose user base is 200 million strong and gradually developing into a social network of sorts, it’s first week of existence hasn’t been bad.