Even though the news that no new Titanfall game is in development at the moment is a bummer, it certainly isn’t doom and gloom with developer Respawn. The studio’s little engine that could in Apex Legends is still wildly popular and continues to be the team’s focus for the future. This was cemented even further today in news reported by GameIndustry.Biz that Vancouver, British Columbia is the home of a new studio location for Respawn, one that will focus solely on its team-based battle royale shooter. This new site will see leadership from head of operations Henry Lee and team director Steven Ferreira, in addition to Apex Legends game director Chad Grenier. “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,” said Lee to GI.Biz.
Publisher EA already hosts a campus in Vancouver, where games such as Star Wars Battlefront II, the FIFA series, and the NHL franchise games are developed. According to Lee, the Respawn team was already working out of Vancouver while handling internal hiring. The team now looks to external hiring and plans on bringing in up to 80 additional people to the campus. In regards to the hiring, Ferreira said “Rather than list out the thing we want to get done and therefore what roles we need, we started off with: we know we want to build Apex, and Apex has a huge opportunity to evolve in the future, being a live service game. And so we started with who was passionate about making Apex, and we built a team around strong individuals as opposed to a project plan that you would conventionally start off a project around.”
The move looks to provide some breathing room to the California-based Respawn team, which has been working on multiple projects while also handling the surprise success of Apex Legends. CEO Dusty Welch hinted that the expansion will allow the original team to work on other potential, non-Titanfall projects, saying “We love to dabble,” he says. “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.”
We already know that Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order is just the start of a new franchise, so there’s a team at Respawn dedicated to the next project in that series, and Respawn doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into being a first-person shooter dev.
This is purely speculation on my part, but part of this expansion could lead to a version of Apex Legends coming to PlayStation 5 in a similar vein as to how Epic just announced that Fortnite will come to the new console as a launch title. Activision’s Call of Duty Warzone is also headed next-gen at some point. Free games coming to new hardware makes a ton of sense and is good for bolstering early consumer bases on new systems, but for now, we’ll just have to wait and see what comes of Respawn Vancouver.