In an odd move, Epic Games Executive Mark Rein scrubs warm wishes to Respawn team over Fortnite battle royale competitor, Apex Legends.
It’s always heartening when companies put down their corporate schtick to play nice with each other. Whether it is major game studios celebrating with competitors during flagship launches or the typical PR banter, it’s always a nice feel-good story for the press. Yet, in an odd turn, Epic Vice President (i.e. Fortnite) deleted his congratulations to the CEO of Respawn Entertainment over the tremendous launch of Apex Legends. But… why?
The kerfuffle began last night when a Twitter user reached out to Mark Rein, Vice President of Epic Games (and co-owner of the Carolina Hurricanes for NHL fans out there). The aim of the Twitter user was simple: get a statement from a Fortnite spokesperson about the up-and-coming competitor, Apex Legends from developer Respawn Entertainment:
@MarkRein what’s your opinion on apex legends
— Sam Howes (@SamHowes19) February 10, 2019
Even better, this wasn’t a Tweet that went ignored. Originally quote-retweeting him, Rein sounded about his very positive feelings towards the battle royale game. “I like it. Very well done!”
And just like that, a wave of warm feelings and business sportsmanship was ushered in. Vince Zampella, CEO of Apex Legends developer Respawn, Tweeted back at Rein thanking him for the warm words — even offering to buy him drinks the next time they meet up:
Means a lot coming from you Mark! I believe I owe you drinks next time we meet up!
— Vince Zampella (@VinceZampella) February 10, 2019
…a Tweet that Mark then reciprocated:
I will enjoy that!
— Mark Rein (@MarkRein) February 10, 2019
However, in writing this feel-good story, something is missing — that original Tweet from Rein saying how he liked Apex Legends. Why?
Perhaps the optimists out there think that since he got a reply from Respawn, the message had been conveyed. Without a doubt Zampella is sharing the Tweet with members of his team, as it is always a great thing to be appreciated and validated in the industry.
On the other end, there is the likely chance that this was Epic Games doing some non-existant PR damage control. By all means, I’m sure they are increasingly conscious of the rise of Apex Legends — EA has been able to quote daily successes since the game’s unexpected launch. In the first eight hours, the battle royale title had scored over a million individual players. Within 48 hours, that number had jumped to 2.5 million players. Then, by the end of the work week, Apex Legends had managed to reach 10 million players, with a high score of 1 million concurrents.
Heck, even doing a quick audit of both titles’ standings on Twitch, Apex Legends leads in viewership with 433K viewers. Fortnite is sitting in third, with just over 143K viewers. Whether this is a flash in the pan for the new battle royale game or the white whale to finally surpass Fortnite, those are some terrific numbers for the once under-appreciated EA team.
And as I mentioned earlier, congratulating competitors is commonplace in the industry. Lest we not forget how Phil Spencer (Executive Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft) reached out to Sony and Santa Monica Studios over God of Wars’ stellar reviews. Or when the Microsoft brand congratulated Nintendo for the launch of the Nintendo Switch.
We can’t tell for certain why the Tweet was deleted, whether it was a mistake from an intern or a call from the Epic Games PR team to tear down some goodwill across the industry. But the optics make it look like Fortnite feels like it is on the ropes, which is clearly the opposite of what they want to convey in this critical time.
Apex Legends is available now on PC, PS4, and Xbox One as a free-to-play battle royale game. Meanwhile, Fortnite can be found on any platform you may have — be it mobile, console, or PC.