Respawn Entertainment's hit battle royale Apex Legends was hailed as one of the least marketed EA games but that may not necessarily be the case. They have reportedly paid Tyler Blevins, known as Ninja, one million US dollars for promotion.
Tyler "Ninja" Blevins has had his bright and controversial moments in the spotlight but his business decision making seems to be top notch. The man has broken Fortnite's records regarding live streaming statistics, played with several real-life celebrities and pulled many other stunts that testify to his status as a great marketing opportunity.
EA recognised this and paid Ninja $1 million to promote Apex Legends after it was released two days after an apparent leak. According to Reuters, whose source gave the statement, both EA and Ninja have declined to comment on the news. In this case, inaction may speak volumes as there would be no reason to stay silent if a deal never happened.
As you may have expected by now, Ninja is not the only big name streamer who got paid by EA to promote Apex Legends on 05 February 2019 as Shroud, DrDisrespect, LIRIK, Summit1G and pretty much every other high profile streamer were present on the launch day.
Shroud refused to disclose the specifics of his arrangements with EA, just like Ninja, but it is presumably a lower amount as he doesn't have as much following and does not appear in mainstream media every so often. On the other hand, Shroud is one of the most well-known streamers when it comes to shooter games, as his skills are undoubtedly high, even managing to impress Ninja on occasion.
Still, considering the number of popular streamers jumping on Apex Legends on release day, it is highly likely EA paid many, if not all of them, to promote the game. While paying for marketing is not a bad thing in itself, this behaviour does testify that Apex Legends didn't become a hit with no marketing involved - EA simply took a different approach with it.