Paragon was a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game produced by Epic Games. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, the game was launched in March 2016 with the free-to-play version made available five months later. In January 2017, Epic Games reported the game already had 832,000 active players, with many praising the game for its true third-person nature. Successive seasons were released over the next year with each added skin proving extremely profitable.
However, in a statement released on January 26, 2018, Epic Games announced that “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.” At the time, the game had not even progressed beyond the beta phase.
Paragon was essentially Epic’s attempt to cash in on the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) subgenre. However, the game struggled to establish a significant following in competition with established titles such as League of Legends and Dota 2.
Fellow Epic title Fortnite: Battle Royale was arguably the most significant competitor to Paragon. Updates to Paragon were slow as game developers jumped over to Fortnite to help manage its unexpected and rapid growth.
In a candid admission on Reddit, developers noted that “Our efforts have always been focused on growing the game. While each of these incarnations has been beloved by a core community, none has been large enough to achieve mainstream success. This, combined with the humbling success of Fortnite has caused us to question if we have a good path to grow Paragon and make it thrive.”
The game also suffered from player retention issues, with new players seldom sticking with the game after their first month.
Like its developers, many Paragon players took to Reddit to voice their concerns. Some of the major reasons behind a lack of retention include:
- Card system and itemization – some players found the card system confusing, with some suggesting Paragon developers were being different for the sake of it. While the vast majority of MOBAs have active and purchasable items, Epic’s card system lacked the flexibility of peer systems and made effective counter-play almost impossible.
- Stability – since the game never progressed beyond the beta phase, it tended to frequently crash at the start of matches.
- Lack of ranked mode – many players also lamented that there was no ranked mode in Paragon with season rewards. Without this crucial feature, the game lacked a competitive edge because there was less incentive to succeed or win.
- Lack of depth – Paragon gameplay was too simplistic and shallow, with no depth to combat exchanges or duels. Heroes, or the playable characters in Paragon, had too few active abilities or too many targeted abilities. This allowed their capabilities to be easily mastered.
In September 2018, Epic Games released $17 million worth of Paragon content and assets for free to Unreal Engine 4 creators.
In the years following the demise of Paragon, this content has spawned several new games including Predecessor, Fault, and Project CORE. Predecessor was developed by Omeda Studios with a $2.2 million grant, with the company being comprised almost entirely of members of the Paragon community.
Ultimately, Paragon was a game with huge potential that found itself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Thanks in part to a devoted following, elements of the original game appear likely to live on for the foreseeable future.
- Paragon was a free-to-play multiplayer online battle arena game produced by Epic Games. After initial success, the developer announced it would be shutting the game down after failed attempts to make it sustainable.
- Paragon struggled to gain traction in the MOBA subgenre amongst established titles such as Dota 2, League of Legends, and Epic’s own Fortnite Battle Royal. This lack of traction was no doubt exacerbated by poor player retention caused by multiple perceived game deficiencies.
- Paragon content was given away for free by Epic Games in September 2018, with many of its most prized assets forming the basis for several other games.
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