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 initial hype bubble now long burst, how many people play Apex Legends in 2021?
In Apex Legends’ case, it hit a landmark of 70 million players by October 2019, suggesting that it was a consistent hit that kept on growing and growing steadily.
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 that’s not where it ended for Apex Legends.
In 2021, Apex Legends is one of the most popular games in the world, smashing record after record.
Apex Legends Active Players: On the Rise
At the time of launch, Apex recorded a very healthy2 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. But that only tells a part of the story.
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.
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.
In January 2020, we got a closer look 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 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.
But that’s not even Apex’s concurrent high peak players on Steam, which came in May 2021 when it hit 330,879 concurrents. Consider that Apex is also on three other platforms and you realise the amount of people playing Apex is very high indeed.
April 2021 also saw Respawn announcing that Apex’s total players had surpassed 100 million since launch.
In August 2021, it was reported by EA in an earnings call that “Season 9 for Apex Legends averaged more than 13 million weekly active players and set a new record for peak daily players across all seasons,” meaning that it is about as far from a dead game as a game can get. That’s almost two million players per day on average, which is a staggering figure.
EA also reported earnings of $1.054 billion in the same call for the preceding quarter, most of it driven by Apex Legends.
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
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 older players back.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that Apex Legends had one of the biggest debuts in gaming history, meaning that anything it accomplished after that would have an incredibly high bar to vault.
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.
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.
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