We covered it a little in this week’s the week in video games roundup, but here’s the full story on Epic’s decision to close Paragon.
When you mention Epic Games, most people think first of Unreal Engine, the game engine and middleware platform used in everything from Rime and Snake Pass to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and the mighty PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. But on their engine, Epic Games also develop and publish their own games.
Sometimes those are new properties and new ideas, like the eponymous Unreal series and the early Gears of War games, but more recently Epic have been hoping to capitalise on the popularity of other games and genres – like Fortnite’s rather PUBG-alike Battle Royale mode, and Paragon, their alternative to the likes of League of Legends and Dota 2.
Those are lofty targets, but you can’t win them all: where Fortnite has taken off – in its Battle Royale guise, at least – Epic have sadly announced the imminent closure of Paragon.
Paragon had something of a complex route to market. The game is technically free to play but initially, players had to purchase a founder’s pack – essentially an early access pass – to join in. Later, when the game launched proper and was free to play for all, purchasers of the founder’s pack would not only be able to carry over all of their progress and effectively be ‘ahead’ of late starters, they would also have a lot more stuff, like cosmetics and boosts.
Players joining Paragon at the free to play stage would get access to the full roster of characters, just like the paid players, but would have to grind – or pay real money – to get all of that extra stuff. The idea was that early adopters got a boost for their faith (and money), while everyone else still got to join in at a later date.
We’ve since learned that Paragon didn’t have the sustained player numbers that Epic were hoping for, to allow it to continue as a sustainable enterprise, and go toe-to-toe with other MOBAs like League of Legends and Dota 2.
In a statement on their website, Epic began:
It’s with heavy hearts we’ve decided to close down Paragon.
We truly appreciate everything you’ve put into Paragon. We received many passionate ideas for where to take the game; the outpouring of thoughtful suggestions is another testament to this incredible community.
After careful consideration, and many difficult internal debates, we feel there isn’t a clear path for us to grow Paragon into a MOBA that retains enough players to be sustainable.
We didn’t execute well enough to deliver on the promise of Paragon. We have failed you — despite the team’s incredibly hard work — and we’re sorry.
Which is genuinely sad news, and while we don’t know the player figures for Paragon – it’s not available on Steam, so we can’t estimate by the means we would for say, PUBG or Dota 2 – to quantify the decision, it’s fair to say Epic won’t have taken this decision lightly; especially given that they are offering full refunds, for any purchases made in or of Paragon, for players on any platform.
That’s a classy move by a developer and publisher who has no doubt lost a great deal of money on their attempt to sneak a slice of the lucrative MOBA pie. Hopefully Epic will be able to similarly look after any of the development team who are displaced by Paragon’s closure.
People are already beginning to speculate, as they are want to do, that the success of Fortnite Battle Royale has had a direct impact on the future, and ultimate closure of Paragon.
While it’s likely that Epic were disappointed by whatever the Paragon figures may be, particularly in comparison to the rampant success of Fortnite, one audience isn’t likely to have impinged on the other to any great degree. They are quite different games and we can’t make direct correlations between them, in the same way we don’t draw a causal link between the relative popularity of Valve’s premier shooter and MOBA properties, CS:GO or Dota 2 respectively.
So what is left for fans of Paragon, then? Epic have pledged to keep the servers online until April 26th, 2018, but as player numbers decay exponentially, expect to see degradation of matchmaking, until the eventual final shutdown of the servers.
As for the general public, they have done what they usually do in these circumstances: formed an online petition to save Paragon. At the time of writing, however, the petition only has 21,898 signatories, which if anything will reinforce Epic’s decision to shutter a game that just can’t pull in the numbers of the games it aspires to.
And for the realistic rest of you? You need to sign up for and link an Epic account (if you haven’t been playing Paragon on PC and don’t already have an account with them) and request a refund via this online form on the Epic Games help centre.
All refunds for Paragon will be coming from Epic themselves and not via your platform provider, like the PlayStation Network or Xbox Live, and we don’t know for how long they will be available.