Apex Legends (game)
Apex Legends is a free-to-play, online multiplayer battle royale game. It was developed by Respawn Entertainment and published by Electronic Arts (EA). Since its release on February 4, 2019, Apex Legends is currently in its eighth season. However, the game’s popularity has raised potential ethical issues regarding gambling, cheating, and cyberbullying.
Apex Legends is a game where up to 60 players, divided into 20 three-player-squads or 30 two-player-squads, enter a battle royale and fight each other to be the last team standing, the "Apex Champions". Prior to entering the game, each player must select one specific "legend" they wish to play, however, the same legend cannot be chosen more than once per team. One of the main features that separated it from its predecessors, Fortnite and PlayerUnknowns Battlegrounds (PUBG), was the ability to revive teammates. Apex Legends also introduced a unique 'ping' system for non-verbal communication, allowing players to alert their teammates to nearby enemies or loot without needing any voice communications. Another unique feature of Apex Legends is the "jumpmaster" system. Before deployment, one person on each team will be chosen by random to be the jumpmaster. The jumpmaster will then be responsible for guiding the team to a safe landing, although players can choose to break off and drop solo at any time, and those who do not wish for such responsibility can choose to relinquish the role of jumpmaster to another team member as well. Upon landing, everyone will initially start with nothing but their fists, so players must investigate their surroundings and gear up by searching for weapons, ammo, armor, etc. There are, however, certain parts of the map that will spawn better loot and equipment, but those locations are also known to every other player in the game. These parts of the map usually turn into early 'hotspots', where players can expect to be fighting multiple other squads right from the moment they land. Players do not only have to worry about fighting other teams though, as every team is also battling against the clock. A bubble that deals steady damage over time to players that stay within it will periodically close in and constrict the play area, forcing players to move into the safe zone, or risk taking too much damage from the bubble and dying. Through a combination of gunfighting and tactical usage of each legend’s special abilities, players will need skill and teamwork to knock down and eliminate the legends of the opposing teams, all whilst constantly having to rush towards the safe zone of the map.
When Apex Legends was initially released, there were only eight legends on the roster. But, with a new legend being released alongside every new season, there is now a total of 16 unique and playable legends on the roster. However, legends do not just have unique abilities, as their looks and play-style are also reflected in their stats. Smaller legends have a smaller hitbox and also move quicker, thus making them harder to hit, but they will also have less health.
Apex Legends has a loot box system where players are awarded certain items like legend or weapon skins, charms, special animations, statistics trackers, etc. Loot boxes also have the possibility of obtaining a rare item, however, the chances are very low. Because of the rarity and the aesthetic appeal that some of these legendary items offer, people tend to spend a lot of money to increase their chances of opening a loot box with rare or legendary items. As a result, people tend to "gamble" their chances and spend a lot of money on this free-to-play game. However, this sort of loot box system may be introducing young gamers to gambling, many of whom may not even be of legal age to gamble.
Cheating and hacking are well-known problems within the Apex Legends community. Although Apex Legends uses the industry-leading anti-cheat service Kamu, in this free-to-play game, the repercussions of being caught for cheating are very low. Once caught, a cheater simply has to make a new account. As a result, people are more tempted to use cheats to win the game, which in turn incentivizes people to create cheats to sell for profit. To help minimize cheating, the developers added a reporting system. However, the effectiveness of the system is still unknown, as players are still using cheats and hacks in the game to this day. Some common cheats include ‘aimbots’, programs that help the player constantly lock on to their target, allowing them to shoot with 100% accuracy. Another common hack in Apex Legends is speed hacking. Speed hacking is when a cheater has a program that enables them to move at very high speeds, much faster than the speed at which legends are supposed to move at in the game, to find targets quickly and also dodge incoming bullets. Cheating not only leads to negative effects among the players and users but for the entire gaming industry too. As some players start to believe that the only way to beat cheaters is by cheating, and the other players who refuse to cheat stop playing the game, game publishers and developers lose player traffic and eventually lose revenue too.
The level of cyberbullying and toxicity varies for each game in the gaming industry. However, in Apex Legends, cyberbullying and toxicity is especially prevalent because of the competitive nature of the game. In video games, many players play under a pseudonym, a "gamer tag”. However, this anonymous nature allows players to be toxic and to harass opposing players or even teammates without consequence. Due to the availability of an in-game chat option in Apex Legends, if a player is teamed up with a toxic player, that toxic player has the ability to type or say whatever they want to in the game. "Tea bagging" is another common form of harassment performed by many players in the Apex community. Tea bagging is when a player who has won a fight crouches up and down over the dead opponent’s body in the game. This form of harassment is done to make fun of the player who has lost the game.