Apex Legends is prepping for a big Battle Pass launch

Apex Legends surprised the gaming world two months ago, bringing a new, frenetic dynamic to the Battle Royale genre of games that has already attracted 50 million players.

That first huge milestone didn’t come at a cheap price — EA reportedly paid Ninja $1 million to stream the game. But now the question concerns whether or not Respawn can keep and convert their new, voracious legion of players.

Luckily for Respawn, Fortnite has paved the way when it comes to monetizing this type of game, offering the game itself for free and generating revenue from a virtual items store and a Battle Pass. The Battle Pass concept lets users subscribe to level up and earn skins, camos and other cosmetic items.

Apex Legends, however, has a unique opportunity to make the Battle Pass even more attractive. For now, that opportunity is called Octane.

Octane is rumored to be the game’s Battle Pass character. We know nothing yet for certain, but a datamine and a few allegedly leaked photos have led folks to believe that Octane has a stim-shot style ability that lets him trade movement speed for his health, with another ability that lets him recover that health out of combat situations.

But his rumored ultimate is the one that people are excited about, should the rumors prove true. Octane’s ultimate ability is believed to be a launch pad, that would let the whole team (and enemies, one would assume) bounce around during a fight.

There’s one curious twist. As we wait for the launch of the Battle Pass, Respawn has placed a handful of the very same launchpads into the game around Marketplace on the map. These are static launchpads, but work nonetheless.

This begs the question: are the launchpads simply a static addition to the map itself, or is Respawn testing out the upcoming ultimate ability of Octane? In either case, Octane represents an interesting opportunity for Respawn and the Apex Battle Pass.

Because Apex Legends is built on a hero system, where individual characters bring unique skills, weapons and gear to the game, Apex can offer new hero characters as part of the Battle Pass. This deviates from Fortnite’s suite of virtual products that offer no in-game advantage and are only cosmetic.

A new character, complete with abilities and skills that could lead to your success, can brew up quite a bit of FOMO among folks undecided about the Battle Pass.

On the other hand, Respawn is potentially rushing out new, paid content when it has work to do on the game it already launched. The explosive growth of the game led to serious server issues early on, and lag has continued to infuriate top players. It also introduces yet another set of abilities/weapons to balance against the rest of the game.

That said, time is the company’s greatest enemy. New content and hopefully more enticing weapon camos should invite a new wave of growth as the core user base is re-invigorated. Balancing that urgency with the time needed to build a polished, beautiful season’s worth of content is the real question.

Respawn seems to be handling the pressure well, with some believing that the Battle Pass has already been delayed to ensure a polished launch. For now, it’s a waiting game.