Future of Epic's Paragon looks gloomy as Fortnite Battle Royale prospers
Epic Games have confirmed that updates for Paragon, their free-to-play MOBA, are slowing down, and that they have drafted people from the team to help on the runaway success that is Fortnite Battle Royale. While over 40 million people have downloaded Fortnite Battle Royale in under four months, according to Epic, Paragon has not found nearly the same success. In a candid public post, Epic addressed the gloomy tone of many players, saying, "Here inside Epic, we're talking about the future of Paragon in pretty much the same terms as you're talking about it."
An Epic community coordinator explained in a Reddit post that part of why Paragon updates have been slow lately is because the "the team's time is split between immediate improvements and longer-term efforts, so there's less visible progress." This isn't helped by how "a number of Paragon team members jumped onto Fortnite to help sustain the game as it has grown far larger than anything in Epic's past."
Fornite Battle Royale really is quite big. While Epic arrived late to MOBAs with Paragon, long after the genre and its players had settled, they've been quite timely in chasing the Battle Royale trend. Playerunknown's Battlegrounds kicked open the doors to the mainstream, and Epic have followed them in. Though Epic's game is clearly so heavily based on Plunkbat, it's found success by giving the game a cheery arcade-y twist, arriving on consoles first, and being free rather than costing £27.
All of that success means that yeah, of course Epic are focusing on Fortnite Battle Royale instead. While it grows, Paragon's diagnosis seems a little grim.
"The core challenge is that, of new players who try Paragon, only a small number continue to play regularly after a month," Epic's post said. "Though Paragon has evolved, no iteration has yet achieved that magical combination of ingredients that make for a sustainable game."
Unsustainable games do not tend to last long. Epic say they're confident they could market the game and make money, but none of that will matter if it doesn't grow first. That's a pretty big problem.
"Over the next few weeks, we'll be figuring out if and how we can evolve Paragon to achieve growth and success, and trying some things internally," Epic say. "In the meantime, Paragon's release cadence will be slower."
I would not be surprised if Paragon soon meets the fate of most other small MOBAs.