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Star Wars video game creator testing new formats to rival Fortnite

Los Angeles

ELECTRONIC Arts, creator of a Star Wars line of video games, showed off two of its newest titles, illustrating how the industry is wrestling to compete with the runaway success of Fortnite.

Apex Legends is a free, multiplayer game released in February, replicating the model used by its rival, Fortnite. In the latest installment, due next month, Electronics Arts is introducing a new weapon, character and ways to speed up the game. Another hotly-anticipated title, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, is a throwback to more traditional games, with a single-player format following an elaborate story line.

The two releases show how the video-game industry has changed, experimenting with different business and revenue models after closely-held Epic Games' Fortnite attracted more than 250 million players worldwide.

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Vince Zampella, chief executive officer of Electronic Arts' Respawn Entertainment, the studio that created both games, said the changes to Apex, including a feature that lets contestants quickly play against the best opponents, were made in response to feedback from fans.

"People loved the game, they love playing it, but there wasn't enough content," Mr Zampella said in an interview. "We didn't expect the game to blow up as big as it did."

The games were two of many that Electronic Arts showed off at a fan event it is hosting in Los Angeles in advance of the industry's annual E3 trade show, which begins June 11.

Mr Zampella also said they were "investigating" a mobile version of the game. Apex Legends could add as much as US$500 million to fiscal 2020 revenue, according to Colin Sebastian, an analyst at R W Baird, or almost a 10th of Electronic Arts' estimated annual sales. BLOOMBERG