When the news of Apex Legends leaked out over the weekend, I was genuinely quite excited. Not so much by the game itself (although I'm sure it's great) but the method in which it was being announced.
It was leaning on influencers first and foremost, no pre-launch hype, no PR campaign. This is EA's first major new IP since 2014's Titanfall (discounting those great EA Originals titles), sneaking out just before that other major new IP Anthem, and the publisher was just going to drop it on us out of nowhere. It's a sign of supreme confidence in the product and a bold marketing strategy. Could it work? It would be brilliant if it did.
And then the game's line producer, Drew McCoy, gave that above quote to Eurogamer. And the excitement I felt vanished in a moment. This wasn't some bold new, experimental marketing initiative, but an inevitable reaction to a no-win PR situation.
EA is acutely aware of the toxicity its name can evoke in certain circles. After all, we're talking about a company that has won and still ranks highly in the 'worst companies in America' list (who knew making video games could be so evil?). It knows how games communities and the media feel about loot boxes and free-to-play (they hate them). It knows how games communities and the media feel about Titanfall (they love it). The conspiracy theories write themselves. EA, after sending Titanfall 2 out to die during a hyper competitive month, bought up the business and forced it to stop making Titanfall games and build a free-to-play title instead.