Respawn CEO Vince Zampella has defended Apex Legends’ more leisurely update schedule as healthier for its developers.
At the GamesBeat Summit in LA this week, Zampella explained that Respawn chose to stick to its intended pacing plans for post-launch Apex content, despite the temptation to ramp up hiring and production in the wake of the game’s record-setting success.
“The thought was ‘hey we kind of have something that’s blowing up here, do we want to start trying to drop more content,” said Zampella. “But I think you look at quality of life for the team. We don’t want to overwork the team and drop the quality of the assets we’re putting out. We want to try and raise that.”
This perhaps unintentionally comes as a critical response to news that Fortnite’s aggressively frequent update schedule has come at the cost of hostile working conditions.
While the length of seasons is still up for discussion, Apex Legends will likely never be a game that drops new guns, characters or map changes on a week-by-week basis like a certain other battle royale phenomenon.
“Our intention was to always be seasonal, so we’re kind of staying with that.”
Of course, Apex Legends has come under fire for its much slower rate of content drops, while the first season Battle Pass disappointing fans. But Zampella asserts that the company is comfortable with the space it’s in right now and is willing to take its time in experimenting with season lengths and update sizes.
“There are a lot of people that are like ‘hey where are the weekly updates, Fortnite does this.’ And it’s like, we’re not set up to do that. We never intended to. All the resources on the team are focused on getting this game in a better position so it plays well, so we have enough content, so the seasons are better.”
While it's good to see Respawn making sure its employees are safe, it's worth noting that Apex Legends' popularity is declining somewhat. The battle royale title has been watched for just 29.6m hours in the last 30 days on Twitch - according to SullyGnome - compared to Fortnite's 100.7m hours. At launch, the Respawn-developed free-to-play title was rocketing ahead of Epic's game. Apex Legends had been watched for twice as long as Fortnite around its launch.
Given that publisher EA is publicly-traded, it's possible that it might start to put pressure on Respawn to get more content out faster in order to help its bottom line. Zampella is part of EA's executive following the publisher snapping up the developer at the end of 2017. That means he could provide some cover for his team - but EA's history of squeezing developers is dense. Just last month, we had a look behind the scenes of development on BioWare's Anthem, which saw the team put under insane pressure that impacted some staff's mental and physical health.