There’s only so much space for free-to-play games in the market as a whole, and even less space for them under one studio roof.
Paragon, a free-to-play MOBA that Epic released in early access in 2016, and opened up to beta in early 2017, never really set the world on fire. That problem has become exasperated by the competition in the market, including all the players flocking to Epic’s other mega-popular game, Fortnite and its Battle Royale mode.
In a surprisingly candid thread on Paragon’s subreddit, the developer admitted that development on Paragon has slowed because members of the team have jumped over to Fortnite to help maintain its unprecedented growth. From the post:
However, progress has been slower lately for two reasons: First, the team’s time is split between immediate improvements and longer-term efforts, so there’s less visible progress. Second, 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.
Here inside Epic, we’re talking about the future of Paragon in pretty much the same terms as you’re talking about it. The core challenge is that, of new players who try Paragon, only a small number continue to play regularly after a month. Though Paragon has evolved, no iteration has yet achieved that magical combination of ingredients that make for a sustainable game. (As an aside, the problem isn’t marketing or how to make money with Paragon. We have good ideas that would solve those problems if we can find a way to make Paragon grow.)
Epic seems to be willing to get behind the game, but the lack of players seems to override all else. With Epic reporting that 40 million players have jumped in to Fortnite at this point, presumably projects that aren’t hitting engagement numbers are being looked at far more closely. While the post does not outright say it, the long term issue does not appear to be a choice between successful and unsuccessful, it looks like Paragon’s options are limited to successful or gone.
Paragon is available on PlayStation 4 and PC, with a major patch that makes significant map changes landing this week.