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Rising Legends: The 2023 Slow Fall of Apex’s Battle Royale Phenomenon

The failure of ranked changes and unsolved conflicts between EA, professional players, and the average player base.

Enemies are pulling their weapons against the season 17 legend, Ballistic.
Credit: EA sports

In February 2019, a new game was released and launched into the battle royale world, and that is Apex Legends.

Apex Legends is a first-person shooter (FPS) battle royal that allows players to team up within a squad of three to eliminate the opponents and become the winner of the match. It consists of the essence of a game published by Electronic Arts(EA) in October 2016, Titanfall 2

In most FPS battle royale games, aiming accuracy has always been the primary focus. However, Apex decided to take a different route. Each legend created by the Apex developers has a storyline that is constantly being updated. This decision has attracted more players and expanded the fan base, marking the first time a battle royale game has its universe and storylines.

As each legend has its unique storyline and some special interactions with each other, Apex has incorporated distinctive features into the characters, such as their backgrounds, genders, nationalities, and sexuality, and even including voice lines in their native languages. The game has attracted players worldwide through this inclusivity, making them more excited about upcoming legends. They hope that the new legend will be from their own country.

If you think those are the only reasons that made Apex Legends stand out from other Battle Royale games, that’s not it! Unlike other BR games that heavily focus on aiming accuracy and hard skills, Apex, the successor of the Titanfall series, retained the unique feature of movement. Players can outplay their opponents through this distinctive feature. This “technology” allows players to constantly experiment and develop different playstyles by incorporating flashy movements.

The money-hungry publisher, EA Games 

As of September 2023, the top three leading battle royale games on streaming platforms by weekly hours are Apex Legends, Fortnite, and Call Of Duty: Warzone, with Apex Legend having 9.6 million viewer hours and Fortnite having 8.7 million hours. Many thought that Apex would overtake Fortnite to become the king of Battle Royale.

As Apex Legends continued to grow its player base and its popularity, EA Games, the notorious profit-driven publisher, saw the success of Apex and decided to capitalize on it. Gradually, they began exploiting the game and esports organizations for financial gain. In September 2022, the head of the Apex Legends Global Series (ALGS) team pitched a collaborative initiative with the Apex Esports organization, suggesting the sale of limited-time team skins for the player base to support their beloved esports teams.

When the design of the ALGS team skins was leaked, this news excited the fanbase, who eagerly wanted to purchase them to show their support towards the teams they love. However, EA Games, again showing us why they are EA Games, have decided to enter the scene again with their greedy presence.

They offered a mere USD 60,000 to the organizations involved in the Team Skins project. Still, a disagreement arose when the teams wanted an equitable fifty-fifty split of the total profits as EA is making profit out of the organizations’ names and fame. This led to EA being unhappy with the teams’ proposal and chose to pull the plug on the entire project after several unsuccessful negotiations, leaving fans disappointed by the outcome.

How EA profited from the Apex Esports organization, forcing them to leave the ALGS

If you believe that the issues between esports organizations and the ALGS team end with the mentioned problem, then you haven’t seen the full image of who EA actually are.

In a startling revelation in September 2022, prominent organizations, including G2 Esports, Cloud 9 (C9), and Team Liquid, made headlines as they departed from the Apex competitive scene.

Despite consistently excelling in the Apex competitive scene, these organizations chose to depart, suggesting a potential lack of support from EA. This departure, viewed as a warning to EA by the player base, doesn’t seem to have been taken seriously by the company. Instead, it appears that EA may be oblivious or dismissive of this signal, allowing the issue to escalate.

After the ALGS Local Area Network (LAN) Championship Finals on September 10th, NRG Esports, a highly esteemed team in Apex, announced their withdrawal from the ALGS, citing the main reason they left was the organization did not receive any support from EA. The organizations don’t earn money at all. Regardless, business is business; no matter how much glory and fame you’ve gained, it means nothing when you don’t earn something.

Following NRG’s departure, a domino effect occurred as several other organizations, including iG International, Spacestation Gaming, Invictus Gaming, KCP Pioneers, ACEND gaming, Team Singularity, ONIC Esports, FC Destroy, 100 Thieves, and Horizon Union, revealed their decisions to leave. This exodus damaged EA and resulted in a huge loss of the fan base, given the popularity of these organizations in Apex Legends’ pro scene.

The beginning of the Unholy Ranked System: “The Saviour”

Apex Legend's 13th season, The Saviour
The 13th season of Apex Legends, along with the biggest update in the ranked system. Credit: EA Games.

Many games, including League of Legends, face issues that the player base may not appreciate. However, the significant problems in Apex Legends have been more pronounced, with these obnoxious issues surfacing since May 2022, coinciding with the release of Season 13, titled “The Savior.”

Since the launch of Season 13, the Apex Legends Ranked queue has become a challenging experience for the average players, much to their dissatisfaction. The decision made by EA, influenced by professional players’ opinions, aimed to transform ranked into more of an ALGS practice. Unfortunately, this decision began a decline in Apex’s ranked mode. Alterations in entry costs and ranked point adjustments for each division made the climb make the average players feel unreasonable compared to their previous state.

Worst season of all time: Apex Legends Season 17: “The Arsenal”

This issue persisted across multiple seasons until the developers took action in Season 17, released in May 2023. EA and Respawn wanted to maintain the ALGS playstyle that season but made it easier to play. Therefore, they revamped the entire ranked system. And here goes the ladder point(LP) system.

Under the LP system, only the top 10 teams will receive ladder points, while anything below the bottom ten may either not receive points or face deductions. Additionally, the entry costs for each rank were reduced, so the season 13 incident won’t happen again.

The ranked distribution in Apex season 17
Season 17 Ranked Distribution. Credit: Apex Legends Statistics.

Christopher “Sweetdreams” Sexton, a professional player of the ALGS, has reached the Apex Predator by dealing zero damage in the first two weeks of season 17, which he called “this change is dumb.”

This season was extremely easy, and the percentage of the players that reached masters was nearly the same as bronze. The game became so easy that it is not Apex Legends but the AFK Legends.

The biggest problem of all time: Cheaters

Although Respawn has been making changes to improve the game, they still never solved the main issue, hackers and configurations. Now you may wonder, don’t we have cheaters in every game? Well, please keep in mind that Apex is a BR game, and hackers always enter the pro scene every year.

Pro players have faced multiple cheaters in ranking nearly every single season. Remember, it’s not any regular-rated game but the highest-level ranked play. It is either wall hacks or aimbots; people are getting tired of this.

Notorious cheater Facilitatur’s Live Ban

In August 2023, a sudden “old news” popped up in the community again because of this video. On August 23rd, Facilitator, a multiple-time rank one predator, received a live ban after “skillfully” eliminating a stacked pro player squad that Jacob ‘HisWattson’ McMillin, a professional player from team Furia, was in.

Despite securing multiple rank-one predator titles in past seasons, Facilitatur has also received numerous bans and accusations from a lot of pro players and big streamers but got unbanned right after. He received three permanent bans from EA but always managed to escape them. However, this time, it is a win for the Apex developers because he’s getting buried in the ground this time. As the saying goes, “justice will come; it’s merely a matter of time.”

After the “Facilitatur” incident, many players voiced their disappointment in EA, pointing out he wasn’t the only issue. They’ve complained about how Apex only fixed problems when the pros pointed out but ignored the player base and how they treat the existing issues. This has created an image where Apex only cares about pro players’ feedback, the average player’s lunch money, and how the cash in Apex’s vault. This is truly an EA experience.

Written By

Hello, I'm Michael, a Master's student at Hult International Business School. I have a strong passion for the gaming industry, particularly as esports continues to gain prominence, and my fascination with games remains unwavering.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Edvin Alvarez

    January 26, 2024 at 11:16 pm

    Michael, What a really good read. Very insightful. I also have a passion for gaming.

  2. Minh Nhut Nguyen

    January 30, 2024 at 10:09 am

    With a wide range of examples, your article is very informative to me. Looking forward to reading more of your works in the future.

  3. Rachel

    February 3, 2024 at 3:34 pm

    An informative and intriguing read! Loved the helpful graphics and videos as well! Nice work (:

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