To say that the launch of Apex Legends exceeded our expectations would be an understatement. 50 million players in the first month (and more since) is staggering for any game, let alone a new IP from a relatively small team who were taking their first swing at a free-to-play game.
Rapid growth is a wonderful thing to achieve, and we’re thrilled with the response we’ve received since launch. However, that growth comes with some clear challenges, and we’ve hit a few bumps along the way, including missteps with our updates, not giving players enough visibility into future content, and not properly setting expectations on how we plan to support Apex Legends.
We are 100% committed to the long-term growth of Apex Legends, and supporting the millions playing every day. So today we want to reset our commitment to you and give you some insight into where we are as a development team and how we’re approaching live service for Apex Legends.
Getting a huge player base in a very short period means exploits, bugs, cheaters, and more come fast and frequently. We’ve had to react and direct resources to play whack-a-mole with lots of unexpected issues. Since launch, we’ve shipped a number of server and client patches that have addressed a range of issues.
While we’ve made some good progress towards a healthier game, as our community grows issues have come up that need to be addressed. The stability of Apex Legends is very important to us, and we’ve been doing a lot of work internally to improve our processes across the board. As we are getting our house in order, some of the critical things we’re prioritizing are:
Slow Server Performance at the Beginning of a Match
- So far, we know that it affects some datacenters more than others, it happens on many different server configurations, and it doesn't seem to hit multiple server instances running on the same machine. In other words, it's not that a machine is overloaded and everything on it is running too slow – it's that one instance on the same machine seems to be doing more work than the others, and we're trying to nail down what work it's doing and work backwards to understand the root cause. This is extremely high priority for us, and we'll keep you updated on our progress.
- Currently testing some potential fixes that will hopefully address many of the performance issues we’ve seen reported.
Hit Registration Issues
- We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes. This is something we will always be more secretive about to avoid telegraphing our moves to cheaters, but we’ll be sharing more on the progress made next week.
Over the next few weeks we’ll talk more about the work that’s being done in these areas and provide updates about when we’ll be addressing them in future patches.
- We are adding engine features to help track down and report instances of incorrect hit registration in playtests so we can force the bug and reproduce the issue consistently. While we have made some progress with some fixes locally, more work needs to be done to address the root of the problem.
We know that, in addition to addressing issues with the game, everyone is hungry for us to add new content. The studio culture that we’ve worked hard to cultivate, and the health of our team are very important. We take those things into account when we discuss our content roadmap, the production schedule, and the frequency in which we can update the game. Our long-term goal is to ensure Apex Legends always feels alive and thriving, with a focus on quality of content over novelty or speed of release. At the same time, we want to maintain our culture as a development team and avoid crunch that can quickly lead to burnout or worse.
At launch we shared a high-level view of our roadmap, showcasing how we would be taking a seasonal approach to live service. Today we want to provide more clarity on what you can expect for content and update cadence in the future:
Thoughtful Updates Throughout the Season
- The beginning of each season will start big with a new Battle Pass, a new Legend, something new for the meta, and more.
- Just as we've done since launch, we will continue to address exploits, necessary balance changes, bug fixes, and small features throughout the course of a season. For complete transparency, our goal isn't, and never has been, to patch or update content on a weekly basis. We believe strongly in the importance of large, meaningful changes to the game that have lasting impact, thus our focus on a seasonal release cadence we laid out at launch. We will continue to follow this cadence in the future.
At EA PLAY in June, we will give you the first details on what you can expect from Season 2. We’ve seen all the feedback on Season 1 and look forward to showing you the improvements we’re making. For Season 2 you can expect a Battle Pass with more meaningful content, the introduction of a new Legend, the debut of a new weapon . . . and you didn’t expect Kings Canyon to stay the same forever, did you?
- We need to provide more visibility into the future, and what we’re working on. That doesn’t mean we’re going to start telling folks everything they want to know when they want to know it, but you can expect more transparency on future updates and fewer surprise drops.
Lastly, regarding other games in development at Respawn, it is important to understand that there are entirely separate development teams working on Apex Legends and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. Additionally, in order to fully support Apex Legends, we are pushing out plans for future Titanfall games. No resources from the Apex Legends team are being shifted to other titles in development here at the studio, nor are we pulling resources from the team working on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.
We know we have a lot of work ahead of us, but we’re up to the challenge and are looking forward to building Apex Legends to its full potential together with our players.