Respawn Entertainment’s recent expansion was made with a couple of goals in mind.
Apex Legends developer Respawn announced last month that it opened a new Vancouver branch that will focus entirely on the battle royale shooter.
The studio had actually existed for close to a year before the news was made public. As part of a larger interview with us, the developer touched a little bit on what that means for the game and the studio’s culture.
“There’s 60 devs up there, with 80 or 85 as their target,” revealed game director Chad Grenier. “And it’s just a group of really passionate developers out of the EA Vancouver studio who have carved out a space to become Respawn Vancouver and work on Apex.
“They’ve got a lot of content under development right now, we work very closely with them, so before before COVID we were flying up there and spending multiple days with them at a time, and they were coming down to Respawn in Southern California.”
The main reason for opening a new studio was to help share the load of maintaining a live service game, without having to push the existing California team into undesirable crunch from extended workloads.
Indeed, Respawn has been pretty vocal in the past about its approach to content creation in a way that doesn’t compromise the team’s health. The developer had been criticised at the time for having a slower pace of new content and events compared to Fortnite.
“Part of Respawn’s way of doing live service is to do it in a healthy way and not crunch the development team, we don’t work long hours, we don’t work weekends, we would love to deliver as much content as possible to the fans, but not at the cost of our lives,” Grenier explained.
“So opening Respawn Vancouver is not only a great way to bring more good content to the game in a healthy way for the devs, but also it’s a whole other group of diverse people with different backgrounds and histories of what kinds of games they’ve worked on. So I’m seeing them bring a whole new creative mindset to the game and introducing some really cool stuff to the game that maybe we wouldn’t have thought of.”
According to anonymous reports, Fortnite creator Epic Games is guilty of overworking its developers to try and keep the rapid pace of new content releases in the game. Things have slowed down now in Fortnite compared to that time, but it gave us an idea about the human cost of creating and maintaining the game’s relevancy.