I’d always gotten the impression that Paragon – Epic’s hybrid third-person shooter/MOBA hybrid – was maintaining a decently sized playerbase, even if it wasn’t keeping up with the likes of Smite, so this comes as a bit of a surprise.
Epic Games have announced their plans to close down the game on April 26th, and are offering full and direct refunds to anyone who put money down on it.
While no official reason is given for their plans to wrap the game up early, return whatever money was taken and move on, if you’ll allow me a little speculation, I could hazard an educated guess: Epic’s increasingly successful Fortnite with its Battle Royale mode is one of the few games competing with Bluehole’s smash hit Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds.
Public numbers show Plunkbat is being played more actively than the next top ten games on Steam combined, while Epic themselves have boasted that Fortnite (presumably mostly its free-to-play Battle Royale side) has seen more than 45 million players across all platforms. Paragon launched into a crowded and already-cooling MOBA market but with Fortnite they struck while the iron is hot and found their niche. Still, the studio have only a finite amount of manpower to go around and only one mega-successful game to dedicate that manpower to. As such, it’s almost certainly a safer bet for the studio to consolidate manpower on Fortnite than continue pouring time and money into a less popular game.
This wouldn’t be the only case of Epic reshuffling staff, either. Their community-led Unreal Tournament reboot seems to have slowed its development to a crawl, and a developer post to the official Unreal Tournament Discord (as repeated here on Epic’s forums) in August confirmed that most UT staff were assigned to other games.
Old-school arena shooters just aren’t pulling the crowds like they used to, and while on a purely pragmatic level I can understand Epic’s decision (assuming my conjecture is on the mark), but I can’t help but wish they’d give their other, less-hyper-profitable games a little love, too. Capitalism, eh? A fool’s game.
At least they’re not taking the money and running. As mentioned, Epic are offering full refunds on Paragon across all platforms, and give instructions for claiming your money back on their official site here. A rare move for any company – good on them.