Respawn have gone from utterly bundling the release and execution of their first seasonal release of content this time last year, to completely and totally nailing it with the release of their 4th season of content. Assimilation and its buildup were an absolute blast, what with their misdirection, their earnest announcement of a new hero “Forge” and with what followed his press conference.
More so than any time before it feels like there is a real candid relationship between game developers and the fans of their games. With the likes of Respawn and Bungie constantly adding to and changing things in their games in a seasonal format, there is this sense of community that comes from the constant back and forth amongst fans and the people working on the games. There needs to be one, or else the devs risk totally misinterpreting the temperature of the room.
As shown with Respawn’s cheeky announcement of Revenant in season 4 of Apex Legends. There is this constant, ongoing story that takes place within the game and its marketing material that is always hinting at the next thing, or the next few things. People knew about Revenant beforehand, thanks to his appearance as the Halloween event announcer, Respawn knew everyone knew this, so decided to toy with the fan base, misdirecting them and making the eventual reveal all the more impactful.
When the synthetic nightmare showed up and murdered Jimmy ‘Forge’ during a press conference and started messing up Hammond Robotics, it felt like we were a part of some ongoing, real world event. The ARG aspect of his announcement is something that goes hand in hand with the ongoing, seasonal aspect of Apex Legends, and Respawn know this.
It’s the trick to keeping these games alive and healthy, it’s be easy for a developer of a very similar game to drop the ball when it comes to keeping their community in the loop and allow them to have the confidence that the developer is doing the best thing for the game. You might have an idea of where I’m going with this: Blizzard and Overwatch.
While the Overwatch team were open and pretty candid early on in their game’s lifespan, as time has gone on, they’ve become more and more recluse. Much to the detriment to their game in my opinion. This may be in part due to the drama with China that happened last year, but honestly, the talks from Jeff always felt a little stilted and buttoned up in some respect.
I’m sure there are people within that team who are fully aware of the problems people are having with their game, but the lack of feedback and communication from them makes it seem like they’re a lot more out of touch than they probably are in reality. All of the current woes seem like they’re here to stay, especially when the team does communicate and fails to mention the thing that is most pressing on the community’s minds.
It makes them seem out of touch, which ultimately hurts their product.
It’s not like it’d be difficult for them to do it better. You could argue that being a part of Blizzard really buttons up the Overwatch team’s ability to create a natural back and forth with their fans, but Respawn are a part of EA, and they manage it expertly.
Both Respawn and Bungie have made themselves readily available to their fans. While this is generally a part of a trained and overseen marketing department, there is enough humanity in there to help us make that connection. The downside to this is that because fans feel a stronger connection to the developers, it means some there is a more directed effort of the more toxic parts of the community to try and exercise their will on the developers.
There’s always that one dope copy and pasting the same message at the top of every social media post, seemingly adamant that he knows best, banging a drum about getting rid of skill based matchmaking and bringing back King’s Canyon. Despite the fact that a changing/evolving map is much more interesting to the game in the long run. I’m noticing it more and more within the Pokemon community, and there seem to be a number of pockets of fans of Apex who want one particular thing out of the game.
The developers do a great job of ignoring these people entirely.
I’d originally planned this post a week ago before the new season was really in full swing, but ended up getting side tracked and playing a full week of it anyway. Now the season has begun, we’re back the business as usual within the game. The more I get involved with Apex Legends, the more I am invested in it, despite being terrible at the game. It’s a point I feel like I’ve written about a number of times these past weeks, how a sense of community and a vocal develop can keep me playing a game for months or maybe years longer than any single player game.
And at the moment, Respawn are the doing is the best. It’s just still too bad they can’t/won’t do anything about those overpriced event cosmetics.
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