Apex Legends shares a few similarities with Fortnite, but in terms of player growth, it's already surpassing Epic Games' juggernaut battle royale title, at least in terms of how they launched. Apex Legends is, according to early analysis, on pace to outgrow Fortnite at a rate that would be extraordinarily quick, even for a genre that has been explosive in its popularity.
Apex Legends released just one week ago, but it has already become one of the most talked about games in the industry. Developer Respawn Entertainment endured a brief period of fan outrage when it was revealed Titanfall 3 had been postponed - or worse - and that EA had asked the studio to create the next big battle royale title instead. That anger lasted for all of a few hours before the game released, though, and has since been replaced by the kind of excitement usually reserved for a AAA game launching after years spent publicly in development. With Apex Legends hitting over 25 million players already, it's clear that the game is already entering rarefied air in the industry.
According to a few different tweets from industry analysts, Apex Legends is already outgrowing Fortnite. As a rough timeline, it appears Apex Legends hit 2.5 million players in just one day after launch, 10 million after three days, and 25 million after seven. It's an incredible feat that will likely need to slow down at some point in the near future, but for now, it's setting a pace that would make Apex Legends one of the most successful games ever. For reference, Fortnite Battle Royale hit 10 million players after two whole weeks, and didn't hit the 25 million mark until sometime between weeks six and eleven:
Here is a rough comp.— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 11, 2019
Number of Apex Legends players after:
8 hours - 1m
1 day - 2.5m
3 days - 10m
1 week - 25m
Number of Fortnite BR players after:
2 weeks - 10m
6 weeks - 20m
11 weeks - 30m
16 weeks - 40m
Another analyst provided a graph to measure exactly how impressive Apex Legends' launch has been. It's especially useful to see in graph form because it helps contextualize the trajectory that Apex Legends is currently on, and it's one that looks like a rocket heading for orbit:
This is why people are getting positive on $EA -- #ApexLegends is not just having a strong launch, it's having a significantly better launch than the most successful game in recent history. pic.twitter.com/4vANqkHJ5k— Thomas Rice (@thomasrice_au) February 11, 2019
The information on Fortnite pertains to when it went free-to-play and battle royale as well, so it's not as though Apex Legends is being given a head start by including the brief period that saw Fortnite remain relatively obscure. Fortnite also launched into PUBG, so the argument that Apex Legends is capitalizing on a market that's more fertile isn't a completely sound one. That being said, however, there's certainly more people invested in the genre than there used to be, so Apex Legends' numbers might be what to expect from great battle royale titles in the future. The game still has a long ways to go when it comes to concurrent players as well, as Apex Legends recently surpassed 2 million - Fortnite hit over 8 million concurrent players late last year.
Still, it seems unlikely that this is just what developers should expect when they release a title into the most popular genre in gaming today. There's more at play here than just cashing in on a big market, and Apex Legends is clearly going to be a major player in 2019. What remains to be seen is just how fast it will grow, and how it will deal with the challenges that come with being under greater scrutiny and the weight of expectation as Respawn Entertainment delivers the game's first content releases in the coming months.
Sources: Daniel Ahmad, Thomas Rice