No game studio had a better 2019 than Respawn Entertainment. Previously known as the progenitors of every first-person shooter fan's favorite shooter of the past decade, Titanfall 2, Respawn released not one, but two games in 2019 that generated a lot of fanfare: the surprise release of the free-to-play battle royale Apex Legends, and the Star Wars single-player adventure, Jedi: Fallen Order.
For studio head Vince Zampella, the release of a third-person action-adventure game (with a huge license attached to it nonetheless), was a big first step. "It's about showing that we're more than just a one trick pony. Like we've done a lot of multiplayer, first-person shooter games; we're kind of pigeonholed in there," Zampella tells USgamer backstage at the 2020 DICE Awards, after Respawn's win for Outstanding Achievement in Online Gameplay for Apex Legends.
"This is about expanding who we are," he continues. "'Cause as game makers, we're all super unique. We're all interested in so many different types of games that we play by ourselves, together. So it's getting that out there that we're here because we love games. We live, eat, breathe games, and we're trying to show the breadth of what we can do, so it was super important for me to really expand that."
As for Apex Legends, Zampella says that heading into year 2, the hero-shooter battle royale is really "just getting started," and points to the recent launch of Season 4 and new Legend Revenant as the beginning of where it's headed next. "If we have this conversation next year," says Apex Legends game director Chad Grenier, "I think what the game will be, in that time, will be much different than where we're at today."
As for what's next for Respawn, considering Jedi: Fallen Order is the studio's best-selling game ever and it's only been a few months and some change from release, is bright. When it comes to being a "one trick pony,” I wonder aloud what other genres Respawn could dip its development quill into. Maybe we're long overdue for Respawn's Tetris, or maybe a Respawn developed RPG. Now that Respawn has battle royale, first-person shooter, and and single-player, third-person adventure under its belt, could Respawn be exploring other new genres in its future?
"Maybe," Zampella says with a mischievous tone. When I follow-up asking if he wants to elaborate, he laughs. "I don't."
Thus, the future of Respawn is a relative mystery, though Apex Legends will keep trucking on, and with Jedi: Fallen Order's sales, it's probable that one day we'll see a sequel to that too. Hopefully one that isn't as buggy.