Apex Legends was among the fastest growing games ever at its launch surging to 50M unique players in one month. With no single player story mode to this day, its storytelling quality in marketing via short films has made it a blockbuster franchise loved for its lore. Almost each installation of the brand’s “Stories from the Outlands” shorts trends #1 globally worldwide on YouTube, and “The Old Ways” short film was no exception.
With Fortnite the undisputed industry leader in battle royale games, Apex Legends needed to lean into our biggest differentiator -- a rich narrative universe filled with distinctive characters -- to build our relationship with fans and establish a deeper emotional connection.
Describe the creative idea
We partnered with the game development team to expand the Apex Legends universe, creating a series of short films to explore and develop the characters players loved. Our second short film unveiled the origin of Bloodhound, a popular-yet-mysterious character. By the end of the short, we’d completely subverted what fans thought they knew about the character, created a rich backstory, and fleshed out the lore of Apex Legends.
Describe the strategy
We believe that as games are an interactive medium, our storytelling should be transmedia as well. The story of Bloodhound didn’t stop with the video. We integrated our narrative back into the game itself, introducing a new playable area - a hunting ground named “Bloodhound’s Trials.” The area was strewn with props from the film which players could interact with to get further depth to the story. Bloodhound’s outfit and Bloodhound’s uncle’s armor was also introduced to the game as a cosmetic skin, allowing players to truly live the story themselves.
Describe the execution
EA partnered with a Polish based company to produce the animated short. A traditional 3D pipeline, including previz, mocap and hand keyed animation was ultimately rendered to look like a beautiful 2D animated film, in a look inspired by the game’s illustrative key art. To bring the massive “Golaith” creature to life, we employed the talents of Terry Notary, famous for his motion capture performances as Kong in Kong: Skull Island and Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The film was released on YouTube on April 2nd 2020.
Describe the outcome
The short gained 4.1M views across all channels in the first 24 hours, and overwhelmingly positive fan sentiment (a 99% like/ dislike ratio). The film trended #1 on the YouTube Main Trend page in the US and Canada, and in total trended in 49+ countries including Main Trend feeds in 33 countries and Games Trend feed in 16. Remarkably for a 10 minute video, we had a 60% completion rate. But more importantly, the short-inspired cosmetic skins became a top selling outfit in the game. By blending mediums and taking the storytelling to a new level, we created a stronger bond with our fans and set the stage for the ever-expanding Apex Legends universe.