The new Wisconsin studio will focus on live services development, while Respawn as a whole thinks about the game’s accessibility for new players.
Apex Legends is in it for the long haul. The game’s developer, Respawn Entertainment, just opened a new studio in Madison, Wisconsin, with an eye to keeping the Apex series going for another “10 to 15 years,” according to game director Steven Ferreira. As someone who has never been able to answer the question ‘where do you see yourself in five years?’ I guess I admire his foresightedness.
In a chat with GamesIndustry.biz (opens in new tab), Respawn bigwigs Daniel Suarez, Ryan Burnett, and Ferreira said that the Wisconsin studio would focus on Apex’s live services development: “Building the live service of Apex is a constant cycle of trying new things and experimenting,” said Ferreira, “and that’s what Wisconsin is going to give us”.
In particular, Ferreira namechecked stuff “like Legend classes” and other things the studio “[hasn’t] done before” as areas the new studio would focus on over the course of the next decade-plus of Apex development.
To be clear, Ferreira isn’t necessarily saying Apex Legends will hang around for another 15 years—though I doubt he’d rule it out—he’s discussing Apex “as a franchise that’s going to be around for 10, 15 years or more.” That could mean continuously bolting new things onto the game we already have, but it could just as easily mean Apex Legends 2, 3, 4 and so on.
But for now, Apex Legends is very much the priority, and it sounds like Respawn is going for a slow-burn approach, determined to avoid crunch and willing to hold back updates until they’re “right”. “We’re in this for the long haul,” said Ferreira, “we can’t just put everything all upfront, burn ourselves out,” and sink the Apex series before it’s had a chance to grow.
In the immediate future, though, it sounds like Respawn and its new studio will be focusing on Apex Legends’ accessibility to new players. “The game has gotten a lot harder and it’s become a lot more difficult for new players to join into the community,” said Ferreira, “so one of the big pushes that we’re looking at is accessibility.” That means “finding more ways for players to play Apex the way they want and have more options is another area you’re going to see unfold over the coming seasons”. But otherwise, Respawn is “looking so far ahead that [it] can’t share any details.”