It finally happened: after well over a year of playing Battle Royale style games, Kiko and I were finally able to win one. We even had an audience . Of course, like all victories, this one is a catastrophe for someone - ironically, it’s me. We spent a profundity of corporate resources manufacturing a brand build entirely around failure. We even have merchandise that celebrates that failure. We could win forever, as long as we lost. And now that’s gone.
What’s more, the unwelcome spike of joy brought on by an unlikely bloom of competence has exposed some hairline fractures in my worldview. I don’t know what’s next, and it scares me, though Gabriel has suggested a course of action that might make up for some of that lost revenue.
It’s very difficult in the modern era to be surprised by anything, where every crow is a portent and every son is a Mordred. “Surprise” tends to be doled out via official channels, via the Tactical Crumb, and when you can get in terrible trouble for leaking information it’s only reinforced. I’ve been surprised a couple times recently - I’ll go into Mutant Year Zero later, but Apex Legends kicked its way out of a God’s skull and now you can download it for free everywhere.
On the one hand, it seems very pragmatic as a creative target for Respawn: leveraging technology from an excellent game whose success was constrained by publisher support to build an entry in the darling genre of the moment. In terms of feel, before Apex Legends I would have said that Blackout was the king. Being the scion of a proven lineage, Blackout was somehow (this was never guaranteed) able to survive the state change into another genre in a way that only bolstered its virtues. The reason we can’t discount Apex Legends - let’s call him Al - is because the people who invented the Call of Duty feel made it, they have ideas about where the genre should go, and they’ve enunciated them in a playable document.
You release a Battle Royale game now, a couple days after people are holding concerts in your competitors’ titles as though they’re operating not Games As A Service but a kind of Universal Metavenue Untethered From Crude Matter, you’re starting in Gehenna and working your way up. Being good is insufficient under these circumstances. So let’s hope they’re lucky, too.