How Many People Still Play Apex Legends in 2021?

Is it still a popular game?

Apex Legends Wattson

When Apex Legends first dropped out of almost nowhere, it was a revelation. Thanks to some very generous spending on influencer marketing from EA, it being a part of the Titanfall universe, and its free nature, Apex Legends took the gaming world by storm. After skyrocketing to the top of Twitch, the playerbase seems to have dwindled in the eyes of many, but Apex is definitely still one of the most popular battle royale games out there. Question is: with the hype bubble now burst, how many people play Apex Legends in 2021?

Just like Epic with Fortnite, Respawn and EA don’t make their concurrent player counts publicly available. As neither of the games are on Steam, we can’t refer to the easily findable numbers. Instead, we have to depend on what the developers want to share, which is usually when they hit significant milestones. In Apex Legends’ case, its most recent landmark was 70 million players in October 2019.

However, this is not quite as impressive as it first appears. Since its launch in February 2019, Apex reached 2.5 million players in just a couple of days and 10 million players in under a week. Just over a week after release, Apex had 25 million players. Apex then hit 50 million players in March 2019, a month after launch. For Apex to then need a further six months to hit 70 million players in October indicates a certain decline, but it’s far, far from a dead game

 

How Popular Is Apex Legends?

Apex Legends Mirage

As mentioned, due to how EA and Respawn relay information, it’s difficult to figure out exactly how many people are playing Apex Legends concurrently. However, there are a few things that are a good indicator of Apex’s popularity.

At the time of launch, Apex recorded a very healthy 2 million concurrent players just a week after launch. By comparison, current battle royale king Fortnite took sixteen weeks to reach such a milestone.

However, it looks like Apex Legends may have peaked early while Fortnite grew gradually before skyrocketing and then showing steady numbers. The slowing down of total players points to that, but so too does the game’s flagging viewership on Twitch.

As you can see, Apex Legends positively flew to the top of the Twitch charts before sliding down almost as quickly as it arrived. This aligns with the game’s slow growth following a sensational period of growth. Twitch numbers aren’t the best indicators of a game’s popularity, but they do offer an insight into a game’s standing in the gaming sphere.

The amount of people playing Apex Legends dwindling at that time is further evidenced by the game’s sudden downturn in revenue. Just two weeks after launch, revenue was down by 74% with stagnant content and underwhelming cosmetics seemingly playing a part.

End of 2019 figures showed that Apex seemed to be losing even more money; check out the below for the highest grossing games of September 2019.

Apex Legends revenue

As you can see, Apex was nowhere to be seen in the top ten, though this was just before the release of the resurgent Season 3 on October 1st. It’s also worth repeating just how big a debut the game had — few could hope to sustain such wild buzz.

However, in October 2019, which saw the release of the widely appreciated Season 3 and a brand new map, Apex Legends had its most successful month since launch, amassing a whopping $45 million in revenue, which was triple what it had accomplished in September.

While Season 4 saw it enter the top ten games on Twitch again through its streamer partnerships, there’s been little data since Revenant was added to the game, nor any figures that reflect what kind of impact the launch of Call of Duty: Warzone has had on player numbers, another free-to-play battle royale that had a similar upwards swing in players shortly after launch.

Warzone actually had double the amount of players Apex did on its launch day, though their trajectories are now more or less the same.

We did, however, get a bit more insight for January 2020 into how many people are currently playing Apex Legends. The Grand Soiree event saw a 12% boost (MoM) to the amount of people playing the game, though revenue did take an overall hit compared to December. That said, it’s to be expected when youngsters are home from school at Christmas.

It seems that whenever Apex Legends has an LTM, new season or new event that its player numbers begin to soar, which is pretty much the case for every multiplayer game out there.

This was evidenced by the launch of Season 5, Fortune’s Favour, which was the most successful season launch in the game’s history, though EA did not share specific information. While this doesn’t necessarily mean it was the most popular period in Apex history as the pre-season before Season 1 is not included, it goes to show that many people still play Apex Legends and love it.

The biggest proof of Apex’s popularity is now actually available for all to see thanks to EA seeing the light and making the game also available on Steam for PC players. Nobody really likes Origin, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Apex Legends cracking the top ten on Steam in terms of active players.

Apex Legends Steam players
Apex Legends Steam players

Apex Legends has been in Steam’s top 10 pretty consistently since its launch alongside Season 7 on November 5th, 2020 and hasn’t really shown a noticeable decline at all. In fact, it’s proven more popular on Steam than games like Destiny 2 and ARK, which are two long standing favourites on the platform. At this time of writing, it’s more popular than almost every game on Steam, barely bouncing outside of the top 5 most popular games on Steam at any time.

In April 2021, many months after its release on Steam, Apex peaked at 228,439 simultaneous players during Season 8, which is a huge number and the biggest the game’s ever reached on the platform. Combine that with the countless people still playing on consoles (and maybe even back on Origin) and you have a very popular game that’s as far from being a dead game as a game can be.

In fact, April 2021 also saw Respawn announcing that Apex’s total players had surpassed 100 million since launch.

While its growth is a little slower than the likes of Fortnite, how many games can you count that have more than 100 million players?

 

The Future of Apex Legends

Apex Legends
Apex Legends

While Apex Legends might not be quite at the heights it once was (at least in terms of grabbing headlines), there’s no denying that it’s still one of the most popular shooters on the market, even more so since its hugely successful Steam launch. Each new update brings a host of new players into the game, and also entices new players back.

Apex Legends has a pretty bright future ahead, especially as it’s yet to crack the mobile market. EA and Respawn have plans to launch the game for mobile devices, which will bring a lot of new blood to the game. If it can also crack the Chinese mobile market, where PUBG reigns supreme and props up the license as a whole, Apex will be soaring. It also launched during March 2021 for Switch, which will only boost its figures even more, even if it’s easily the worst way to play the game/

It’s also worth bearing in mind that they have plans to bring Apex Legends to the next generation of consoles, as well as being backwards compatible on both. Though the install base on the new systems will be comparatively low to begin with, having Apex on those platforms will go a long way to ensuring it lasts the distance.

While many point to the emergence of Warzone (and basically every other BR) as bad news for Apex, it’s worth remembering that Warzone and Apex are two completely different experiences. Warzone is more of a straight shooter, while Apex has dashings of a hero shooter that help it stand out.

Respawn has also opened up a new studio solely dedicated to Apex Legends, meaning that they are all in on keeping the game updated and, perhaps most importantly of all, popular for seasons and possibly years to come.

Before all that, though, the first thing EA should do is try to sort cross-saves for the game so that people across different platforms can carry over progression. There’s also the fact that hackers are running rampant at this time of writing, which is sadly just part of the deal when your game gets this big. Hopefully, with the right anti-cheat and harsher punishments for those who do cheat, Apex’s security problems won’t hurt its popularity too much.

Apex Legends is free to play on PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One.

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