Accessibility across platforms has always been a hallmark of the gaming industry. Sure, consoles and personal computers are great, but they can sometimes break the bank, meaning only a small percentage of the general public enjoy certain games. But what almost everyone is guaranteed to have is a mobile phone.
Now, that’s actual accessibility. Let’s face it, how many people individually have their console or can afford a gaming PC? Mobile phones are, by and large, more affordable, and you don’t need to ‘sell your soul’ for an android (or iOS-powered device) that gets you amazing games. And that’s something game developers were quick to realize.
From Fortnite to Hearthstone to Football Manager, to Call of Duty, and of course — the honorable This War of Mine, we’ve enjoyed some of the best video games on our smaller screens. And on May 16th, 2022– Apex Legends joined the group chat.
Apex Legends Mobile / Source: EA Games
Arguably one of the most anticipated mobile game releases in the last decade, Apex Legends Mobile offered a deeper dive into the already prosperous world of battle royale titles and mobile gaming. From its roster of unique playable characters (like Bloodhound, Gibraltar, Lifeline, and Pathfinder) to its open-world maps (such as Kings Canyon, World’s Edge, Overflow, and Pythas Block 0), there was so much content for old and new fans.
But now, barely a year later, Electronic Arts(EA) and Respawn Entertainment have announced its decision to “sunset”* Apex Legends Mobile. The company noted that the content pipeline for the game has started falling short of the “bar for quality, quantity, and cadence.” As a result, the game servers are set to shut down on May 1.
*Town Crier Tidbits: To sunset anything in the information technology (IT) world means to remove or discontinue it intentionally. In most cases, an announcement will be made to users in advance, typically with an expected timeline.
Here's what we know about the Apex Legends Mobile shutdown
In its latest newsletter, Deconstructor of Fun discussed why EA killed Apex Legends Mobile. One possible reason not mentioned in the official statement could be that Apex Legends Mobile is another game in the oversaturated Battle Royale genre. Even if players try something new (no matter how good it is), they always return to their favorite game titles like PUBG Mobile, Call of Duty: Mobile, Fortnite, and Free Fire.
Another possibility could be Tencent, and EA had unrealistic expectations. According to Deconstructor of Fun, Apex Legends Mobile was made by a team of over 300 people. Given all the money spent on its development and further live operations, the two companies expected huge returns on their investment and to see the game become a CoD: Mobile rival in terms of revenue.
How much did Apex Mobile make?
Apex Character Lineup / Source: EA Games
Unfortunately, it still didn't do that well**. Daniel Ahmed of Niko Partners shared some exciting details about the game's failure, which forced the company to discontinue its service.
He shared that in the last three months, only 0.68 percent of gamers in Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa played Apex Legends Mobile. The figures pale in comparison to those of its contemporaries. PUBG Mobile leads all battle royale games with 14.7 percent of users, followed by Free Fire with 9.9 percent.
Additionally, Call of Duty drew in 6.3 percent of players in the regions above. The game also had poorer numbers when it came to average hours spent playing per week, fielding 4.5 hours. In comparison, PUBG Mobile boasts 5.6 hours, while Free Fire and CODM have less than five hours but still outlast Apex Legends Mobile.
The title's failure in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia, the world’s mobile-dominated markets, is at the forefront of the reasons for its shutdown. Apex Legends generated around $4.8 million in its first week, a poor start compared to other battle royale competitors.
There’s one last nail in the coffin. Respawn stated in its sunset announcement that this resulted from factors beyond its control that prevented the studio from maintaining high-quality content support. "This could have been a result of some disputes between company leaders," alleged Deconstructor of Fun. “Something must have led to Tencent ceasing to work on the game” other than the game’s performance.
Fans of the game are dissatisfied with the decision to shut down, with many blaming the developers for not delivering regular upgrades. Others have shifted the blame to EA, who faced another split from the global football body FIFA in May 2022, bringing an end to a decades-long partnership and the FIFA series (there’s a lot of backlash for EA right now).
But the most significant issue now is for those with recent in-game purchases. EA has stated it will not refund any real money purchases made by players, citing the terms of its User Agreement.
This sounds like a problem for another day. We look forward to making the most of Apex Mobile– on May 1, 2023; we say our final goodbyes. The PC and Console versions are still available but select few. It’s back to the drawing board for Respawn and EA, while CoDM, PUBG, Freefire, and other camps celebrate the exit of a competitor with immense potential.