Since its surprise launch at the start of last year, Respawn Entertainment’s battle royale spin-off Apex Legends has cemented itself as one of the best examples of the genre. Now, with the company are founding a new studio in Vancouver, Canada to focus on its continued development.
Well, actually, it’s less a case of founding a new studio, and more a case of revealing to the world that it exists. Respawn Vancouver was built up at EA’s existing Vancouver offices, growing the team internally over the last eight months, but now they’re announcing themselves to the world and more actively looking to hire and grow this studio to something in the region of 80 people.
This is the fourth team under the Respawn Entertainment banner, but the first to be created outside of their main California offices. The new team is being headed up by a bunch of Respawn veterans, including Head of Operations Henry Lee, Team Director Steven Ferreira, and Apex Legends Game Director Chad Grenier.
Lee explained to GamesIndustry.biz:
When you look at Vancouver, it’s one of our [EA’s] biggest studio locations. And Vancouver is full of talented people in the games industry, so there was a natural fit with Steven coming on board with his core team and really establishing that foundation. Now we’re just adding the missing pieces to it.
This is a great opportunity, not just for the Vancouver studio to bring some new creative challenges to people already there, but also to the local industry in terms of being part of the Apex Legends roadmap. So we’re very excited about bringing this to Vancouver and hopefully greater Canada as well, because we can tap into much more of a talent base broadly.
It’s an interesting decision, seeming to stem from the company’s desire not to overwork their staff and give Apex Legends the room to grow more naturally. It took Respawn over a month to launch the first in-game season of content, taking criticism on board fleshing out their ideas to include the creation of a new map, as well as start to weave a wider narrative around new characters that are introduced into the Arena.
However, this also opens up possibilities for the company as a whole. Apex Legends itself started off as an experiment after the development of Titanfall 2, evolving into its own thing. That team’s work on Apex has seemingly ruled out the creation of Titanfall sequels for the time being, but the same experimental approach could lead to another surprise coming out of Respawn.
Respawn COO Dusty Welch said
We love to dabble. Vince [Zampella] loves to dabble in all kinds of projects. His taste for game-making is not just in shooters. But look, you’ve got Star Wars out there — that’s a huge passion for Vince and I — and we love all kinds of different games, and we’ll continue to think about ways to expand. But right now, for at least for our team here [in Vancouver], Apex is a huge focus and a great opportunity.
Aside from traditional shooters, the company is also working on a Medal of Honor VR game for Oculus Rift, while an action adventure team was created with God of War III Game Director Stig Asmussen at the helm to create Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It makes sense they would be working on the same.