Just last week, Electronic Arts stock was down nearly 20% after its latest Battlefield installment flopped and the company announced disappointing quarterly sales and revenue numbers.
Shares jumped 8.5% yesterday (Feb.12) on the news that Apex Legends, EA’s answer to Epic Games’ dominating Fortnite Battle Royale, signed up 25 million players in its first week. For comparison, Fortnite took three months to hit 30 million users. (Still, Apex Legends is a long way off from matching Fortnite’s current total of 200 million.)
Apex Legends has also become the top game on the live-streaming network Twitch, with more than double the viewers of Fortnite and League of Legends in its first week.
Although EA owns marquee premium titles like the FIFA soccer franchise—which brought in nearly $1.3 billion last year according to a Superdata analysis—revenues for paid games pale in comparison to Fortnite’s massive 2018 haul of $2.4 billion, driven by in-game purchases.
Small wonder, then, that EA produced its own version of a battle royale game, with a few alterations to differentiate itself from Fortnite. Apex Legends players compete in teams, each choosing a character with special traits to round out squads. Apex Legends will take advantage of revenue streams Fortnite has capitalized on, allowing users to buy loot boxes that yield random in-game items.
The timing of Apex’s success is critical for EA, which has been gearing up to release its highly anticipated mob-shooter Anthem. The company’s stock dropped roughly 50% from July to December last year. It’s still in recovery mode.