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Gaming: Apex Legends devs eye next Titanfall; Pennsylvania weighs violent games tax; RDR2 record sales

By Benjamin Bullard
Apex Legends via official website 2019

Apex Legends didn’t lack for word-of-mouth buzz on its opening day, with EA Games' entry into the battle royale fray scoring a huge early success as gamers logged on by the literal millions. But it’s tough to know how many of the game’s first wave of curious players were there for the fun — and how many were there to see just how much of a Titanfall game they could expect. 

As it turns out, Apex Legends may be set in the Titanfall universe, but no one’s going to confuse it for the series’ next big installment (even though it’s set 30 years after the events of Titanfall 2, there are no actual titans, for starters.) Tons of digital ink have been spilled since the game’s Feb. 4 launch over EA’s decision to set developer Respawn in charge of anything other than a direct sequel to 2016’s critically adored Titanfall 2 — and now, it seems, EA and Respawn are listening.

Respawn cofounder Vince Zampella took to Twitter a day after Apex Legends racked up a reported 2.5 million sign-ons, via, to tease fans that some kind of new Titanfall content indeed is in development:

Sure, that leaves plenty of room for interpretation, and neither EA nor Respawn has so far offered additional details about what it means. But saying “the T word” at the very moment when fans are taking their first tentative steps into Apex Legends is pretty audacious unless there’s something substantive behind it. 

Even if there is, though, it’s hard to envision an all-new Titanfall game on the near horizon. Titanfall 3 was reported to be in development as far back as 2017 — around the time that EA acquired Respawn — and, as Eurogamer notes, progress on that game appears to have been halted because its game engine was getting long in the tooth, as progress toward the next generation of gaming consoles inched nearer. 

For now, we know that the next proper Titanfall game is at least on the minds of the people who make the games, even if they’re currently preoccupied with giving Apex Legends a strong start. To check out the free-to-play Apex Legends, head on over to the game’s landing page and pick your poison: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, or PC.

They’ve tried it before, and now they’re reportedly trying it again: lawmakers in Pennsylvania are weighing a new proposal to levy a sort of sin tax against games that carry an “M” rating for violence or suggestive themes. 

Fortune reports that the state’s General Assembly is considering a bill that would add a 10 percent tax to any game that’s been given the ESRB’s AO (adults only) or M rating, reviving a measure sponsored by Rep. Christopher B. Quinn (R) that died in committee last year. 

If passed, the tax would apply to a whole lot of popular titles, since M-rated games in particular dominate a huge section of the market. Just in the past year alone, some of gaming’s biggest sellers carried the M rating, including Red Dead Redemption 2, Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, Fallout 76, God of War, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, Far Cry 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Hitman 2, and Detroit: Become Human.

Via the report, Quinn appears to be standing on the often-made political argument that violent games can inspire violent real-world behavior. This year’s version of the proposal is currently in committee. 

Speaking of M-rated games that sell like hotcakes, publisher Take-Two Interactive is reportedly counting the stacks of money that Rockstar’s Red Dead Redemption 2 made during the two months it was available last year. 

Via IGN, Take-Two’s latest quarterly report, which includes all the time RDR2 was on the market last year following the game’s Oct. 26 release, shows Arthur Morgan’s tragic tale sold 23 million copies — a mind-boggling number when you consider how briefly the game’s been on sale. 

RDR2 was, in fact, the best-selling title of 2018 according to the NPD Group, which places its total sales just ahead of Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, another M-rated game that also debuted late in the year. And with the rollout of Rockstar’s new Red Dead Online sure to keep the experience fresh for months and possibly years to come, it looks as if the wild west’s violent, foul-mouthed gangsters won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. Red Dead Redemption 2 is available now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.