Creating new playable legend characters in Apex Legends is a long, long process that takes over one year, Respawn's Chad Grenier confirms.
Making games is tough, but live games are a whole different world of difficulty. The dev cycle for service games never stops, and the game requires consistent updates, tweaks, and content drops. This process means studios like Respawn are in perpetual motion at all times and production cycles overlap.
In a recent developer panel on Twitch, Apex Legends Game Director Chad Grenier gives transparency on how long the process can take. In this case, making a new playable legend to keep the roster fresh and create an engaging meta.
According to Grenier, it takes 1.5 years to make a new legend. Apex Legends has been out for 2 years and has delivered 8 new legends since release. The team already knows what legends will be included for the next four seasons.
"We know we're doing a legend, and it takes a year and half to build a legend. It starts with a concept, it starts with Ashley (Ashley Reed, senior writer) writing who that character is, and not so much Kristen (Kristen Wong, environment artist) for the art, but some of her colleagues will do the character art
"So there's just a lot moving pieces that we're all trying to bring together at the same time. And then there's always a handful of things like 'what does the live game need now that we didn't know it needed' There's smaller things like weapon tuning, smaller map updates, what are people talking about that we can solve in a three-month period.
"There's so many things happening in parallel, we have a pretty good production department to keep us all on track or else it'd just be a big mess."
"At this point we know our season 9, 10, 11, and 12 legends, I believe. We are always planning ahead of time, but these don't have models, don't have stories, but they do have abilities,"Grenier said.
Creating new legends is essential to keep the game as popular as it is, and EA expects the franchise will generate $1 billion this year.