Apex Legends’ 2020 ‘soft launch’ will lead EA’s next big mobile push

Electronic Arts is doubling down on mobile gaming. And it could make the biggest splash this year with an Apex Legends “soft launch.”

Speaking at an EA fireside chat this week, the company’s CEO Andrew Wilson expects Apex Legends to be in “soft launch by the end of this year,” meaning it will likely hit mobile devices in beta form. Wilson didn’t say exactly when the game would launch on mobile or for which platforms (iOS, Android, or both).

Wilson’s comments come amid EA’s expanded mobile strategy. EA’s mobile game Plants vs. Zombies 3 was initially released in the Philippines and later in other countries as stability improved and bugs were addressed. It could be the template EA follows for Apex Legends later this year.

Wilson added that EA “six or seven other [mobile] games in various stages of incubation or production or in finaling phase.” He didn’t identify what those games are but did say EA feels “very good” about its mobile division overall.

While EA is best known for its console and PC success, the company is expanding its presence in mobile as more players turn to their smartphones for gaming. Some of EA’s biggest franchises, including Madden, FIFA, and The Sims are available on mobile devices. Still, EA’s mobile division is much smaller than that of traditional platforms. Last quarter, EA’s mobile division made $186 million in revenue, 16% of EA’s $1.2 billion total revenue and a 19% drop from the $231 million it generated in the first quarter of 2019.

Bringing the wildly popular Apex Legends to mobile, however, could be one of its most important moves yet. Although Madden, FIFA, and The Sims are all well-known, Apex Legends popularity has soared to more than 70 million global players who battle each other on tethered consoles and PCs. And last week, EA said it would bring Apex Legends to the Nintendo Switch and Steam later this year with cross-play support. Although, Wilson didn’t say whether the mobile Apex Legends would also offer cross-play. A mobile version would allow them to pick up and play on the go and could attract the many mobile players who aren’t console or PC gamers.

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