Apple's 2022 iPhone Game of the Year is already shutting down in May, but why?
RIP Apex Legends Mobile.
Respawn Entertainment and Electronic Arts' immensely popular battle royale shooter took the console world by storm when it dropped in 2019. It was so good, the duo decided to bring it to iOS in May of last year, and just six months later it won Apple's incredibly prestigious Game of the Year Award in the 2022 App Store Awards. Barely two months later, it's shutting down.
In a stark blog post on Tuesday (January 31st), EA announced that despite a "strong start," the content pipeline for Apex Legends Mobile has begun to fall short of that bar for quality, quantity, and cadence."
As a result, the publisher and developer have made "the mutual decision" to sunset the mobile version of Apex Legends.
That means you've got 90 days to enjoy playing on your iPhone before it goes away for good. Transactions with real money have already been disabled, but you can still spend Syndicate Gold and play the game until 4 pm PDT on May 1, then the game will cease to exist.
iMore's take - EA should have known better
EA says it won't be providing any refunds for real money purchases, which means all the hard-earned cash you might have poured into the game just goes up in smoke. This seems a real shame. While I've never played the game myself, I know Apex Legends Mobile is incredibly popular, and the reaction online to the game's shuttering proves this is the case.
I think it's really sad that a studio-dev combo the size of Respawn and EA can't sustain a mobile game for more than one year on a platform as big as iOS. Yet EA seems to believe it has learned a very important lesson about gaming on mobile, notably that it is quite different from a console...
The problem is that console games don't often translate well to mobile, especially given that Apex relies on high-octane teamwork and coordination perhaps not suited to the far more casual mobile space. I'd personally argue that twitch shooters are not enjoyable on the touch screen, but EA seems focused on the former: "There is a level of immersion and complexity to Apex gameplay in particular which is very much what Apex is about - verticality of gameplay and team-based play," CEO Andrew Wilson told listeners on EA's earnings call this week.
Wilson said this "didn't translate quite as well to mobile devices as we had hoped." Wilson also revealed Apex struggled to "retain the more casual user at the rate that we needed it to," stating that the liquidity of the player base was really important to the experience.
As a result, EA is also sadly pulling the plug on the development of its mobile Battlefield title, which I would have been much more interested in. Then again, Battlefield 2042 was so bad that maybe this is a good thing...
All is not lost, however. Wilson says the company had "learned a great deal" from the experience and said the company had plans "to reimagine a connected Apex Mobile experience in the future." Perhaps Apex Legends on mobile might be more successful without a freemium element, and could even succeed on Apple Arcade, a title that would definitely draw eyes to the service for Apple.
EA also hinted at future games that rely more on being connected deeply to a broader franchise, where there's at least cross-progression if not cross-play, making mobile gamers feel like they are more part of the community. Personally, I feel like EA probably should have considered some of this before unloading one of its biggest titles onto the App Store, especially given how many players have put their trust in EA and their cash in EA's bank accounts.
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Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.
Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9