Do you think EA forced/influenced Respawn to turn Titanfall 3 into the free-to-play battle royale Apex Legends?
There’s a persistent myth among gamers that the evil publishers “force” the noble game developers to do stuff they don’t want to do. This allows gamers to concoct a mental narrative of good guys (devs) who only want to make awesome stuff and bad guys (publishers) who only care about money. That’s exactly what you’re doing with your question – it seems like you want to believe that the evil EA is forcing the noble and kind-hearted Respawn developers to abandon their dreams and force them to build an evil money sponge instead, so you asked me that question in hopes that I’ll say “yes” and confirm exactly what you’ve always suspected. I’ll tell you now – that sort of narrative usually has no basis in reality. The vast majority of the time, the relationship between developers and publishers is collaborative. We want to work together because we’re combining two related fields of expertise – making fun games and getting those games into player hands sustainably. If a dev studio ever enters into an adversarial relationship with a publisher, lots of people (or even the entire dev studio) tend to jump ship.
What really happens is that a development studio needs to develop stuff that earns money in order to keep paying its employees. Dev studios work collaboratively, hand-in-hand, with publishers to create games that they think will play well and earn enough money needed to keep everyone involved paid and happy. Several of Respawn’s senior devs had already been internally experimenting with different modes for multiplayer gameplay since before Titanfall 2′s 2016 release date and far before PUBG’s huge splash in 2017. Before acquisition by EA in 2017, Respawn had already been in negotiations with Nexon to publish an online multiplayer Titanfall game. That project and that experimental gameplay is what eventually became Apex Legends.
This project might have been considered Titanfall 3 at some point but calling it Titanfall probably wouldn’t have felt right without actually having Titans in it. Respawn’s designers have already stated that they didn’t want to nerf down the Titans to the point they didn’t feeling powerful anymore, but they also wanted to build a competitive game that didn’t depend so much on how swingy the powerful Titans made the experience. From what I understand, the folks at Respawn wanted to make a fun, engaging, new multiplayer shooter experience and had been working on carving that out since 2015, no matter who their publisher was. They weren’t forced to do this against their will. EA just gave them the best offer to help them do it.
The FANTa Project is currently on hiatus while I am
crunching at work too busy.
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