For those of you who haven’t heard of Epic Games’ upcoming PS4 and PC Multiplayer Online Battle Arena, Paragon, take a look at the trailer below:

I could sit here geeking out about how visually stunning the game promises to be, but I’ll save that for a review after I’ve played. More interesting than the game itself is Epic Games’ promise that this will not be a pay to win game.

Paragon is designed so that all players can compete and win without ever having to spend money. All Heroes are free, and cards can only be earned by playing the game. The game will never be pay-to-win, meaning we will never sell gameplay-affecting items. We will sell cosmetic items (skins, emotes), boosts and other convenience items, along with Paid Early Access. We’re taking this approach because we believe that competitive games need to be fair for all players. 

This is, at least to my knowledge, a big and brave move. Most others I’ve seen will have premium items that make the game easier, even if only slightly. That this game will be a level playing field for all players, regardless of how much they spend, will either be very costly, or a stroke of genius.

I believe it’s a stroke of genius, for three reasons:

  1. Epic Games is the only company that can publish a game using the Unreal engine, and not have to pay a license fee for each user. That makes it a lot easier for them to give access to this game away for free.
  2. Epic’s main revenue source isn’t tied in to this game, or any other game they publish. They make more money from other publishers who use Unreal than they do from their own games.
  3. With many other engines giving away their development kits for free, and now Amazon’s Lumberyard saying that there’s no charge for using it to distribute an offline only game, Unreal need a big, easy to access game that will show off all the things the engine can do.

Taking the above three points into account, it’s easy to see that Epic is doing this to show off Unreal. While they may garner some revenue from the cosmetic packs they will be selling, I doubt it will offset the development cost of the game, but they don’t need to do that, as long as they get a lot of people playing. The more people who play, the more Epic can argue as to the robustness of their game engine, which means they can persuade more studios to use them.

I’ve signed up for the beta (of course) and I’ll be very interested to see whether their move to level the playing field will pay off.