Paragon players rage over ‘pay-to-win’ monetization changes and loot crates

No exaggeration: The Paragon subreddit is in absolute uproar over the MOBA’s newest monetization tactic. The board is currently covered with dozens of threads angry over the game’s new buyable packs as dedicated players express rage over what they’re saying amounts to pay-to-win, mobile platform strategies – a moneygrab.

The most expensive pack, the Diamond pack at $150, does include a ton of stuff. But what it doesn’t include is a guarantee that the loot crates tucked inside it will actually grant all the unlocks, meaning you could shell out a ton of money and still be outta luck.

Redditors are also speculating on the decision-making process itself, pointing out that the game’s former director, Steve Superville, who left Epic after 15 years with the company last spring, was adamant that the studio would never sell cards and heroes, that they’d be earnable only through gameplay.

“Vote with your wallets,” one Redditor urges players. “This game cannot thrive with a P2W platform, and the best way to prove this is to NOT BUY THE PACKS.”

Here’s what players are looking at:

Source: Reddit, official site. Cheers, Sorenthaz!
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61 Comments on "Paragon players rage over ‘pay-to-win’ monetization changes and loot crates"

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John Kiser

And yet if people bothered reading the pack inclusions it is largely skins and loots crates. You can earn a lot in the game just by playing it often enough as is. The cards can be crafted for that matter as well. This just seems like people expect no monetization model at all and for this game to be 100% free somehow. The packs are literally just bundles of shit that has been there for ages now already.

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kimowar101

one of the many reasons I wont touch f2p games….

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Bhima Jenkins

I played Neverwinter for a short stint, and while I enjoyed the game, it is chock full of pay-to-play the content. I then moved to Fortnite. Ohhh man. I actually still find quite a bit of enjoyment out of the Fortnite game loop, but that game’s monetization tactics are among the worst in the industry. Looks like they modeled the success from Fortnite and moved it over to Paragon.

I think I’m just going to go back to GW2 where I don’t feel like I’m getting it in the rear, and maybe check out Destiny 2 once all of its monetization schemes have been fully laid out to scrutiny.

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Armsbend

Fortnite was an overnight flash in the pan. No one is talking about it; no one is watching it; no one is buying it.

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Jack Pipsam

Give them an inch, they’ll take a mile.

oldandgrumpy
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oldandgrumpy

Wonder when the whale oil will run out for the industry as a whole.

Reader
Hirku

I’d be happy to grab a harpoon and speed things along.

kalamari_
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Greaterdivinity

Good outcome, but it’s troubling that such a major “mistake” would make it through all the various processes and out in the public. I’d definitely feel better if they went a bit more into how this occurred given how major of a “mistake” it appears to be.

The “learning as we go” bit is kinda BS, though. Epic isn’t some new studio that’s never made games. They’re not some tiny team with a shoestring budget that can’t afford to hire extremely talented, experienced folks to work on their titles. I get that there is always going to be a certain level of learning going on no matter what, but these are the kinds of things that they should have learned from dozens of other studios making similar mistakes on. This is the kind of thing that their staff experienced with F2P models should have flagged immediately and ensured didn’t make it live.

Ultimately, it’s pretty much the best outcome that the community can hope for, so I don’t want to be too harsh on Epic. But at the same time, if I was a player I’d sure as hell want more information on how this nonsense could get through their processes and end up being the PR nightmare that it’s ended up being. That doesn’t put on a good look for Epic at all, especially with their recent Fortnight monetization controversy.

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Sorenthaz

Epic had like 40% or so of their shares bought by Tencent and a majority of their big names (Cliffy B included) dropped out from 2013 onward. For all intents and purposes they’re a shadow of their former self and even project leads for Fortnite/Paragon were switched out at one point I believe, which is when things started shifting in negative/more cash-grabby directions.

That and let’s be real: they haven’t done any real games Since Gears of War Judgement in 2013.

Still they have very little excuse for playing the “Early Access” card and acting like they’re a bunch of small indie developers making games for the very first time. It’s like they’re abandoning their legacy by doing that junk.

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Greaterdivinity

They didn’t even do Judgment solo, that was primarily developed by People Can Fly (Bulletstorm folks).

It’s just so strange to see how they’ve changed over the years. I mean, Sweeney is still around kicking ass and doing great work on Unreal Engine, so at least that’s pretty consistent.

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Sorenthaz

Yeah but he’s even gone out and publicly defended and supported the way Fortnite’s monetization has been done, so… it’s pretty clear he’s fully condoning the way things have been going.

Almost comes off as Epic being in need for $$$ because of the high production costs and Daddy Tencent not being happy with their earnings.

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Arktouros

“Voting with your wallets” doesn’t mean anything anymore. Many games are designed to accommodate “freeloaders” in the system but most importantly utilize them as content for other paying players to enjoy. So even when you don’t pay for anything all you’re doing is having a sub-par experience while providing content (cooperative or competitive) for other paying customers.

The only actual way to have an impact is to stop playing entirely. I mean I don’t realistically expect people to go that far but that’s what it takes now. F2P/P2W/etc systems give players really no options other than continue to play and directly/indirectly support the business decisions you disagree with or quit entirely.

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Utakata

I support games I enjoy that have fairer models. /shrug

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Arktouros

And if you play games with less fair models then you support their model by being content in it for other players regardless if you financially support them or not. /shrug

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Utakata

To which I don’t. I am not sure that’s some cryptic comeback…I know you got /upvoted for it. But I don’t see how this is relevant when I stay away from games with less fair models, as they tend to cramp my overall enjoyment of the game. (Also see: Champions Online.)

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Arktouros

There’s no cryptic message in there. I don’t really pay attention to updoots because people upvote for too many myriad reasons to draw any conclusions of meaning behind them. I didn’t really see how replying that you support games that you enjoy that have fairer models had to do with my original point that in a F2P model style games, which Paragon is, redditors claiming to vote with their wallets is meaningless because the entire monetization system is designed to accommodate that stance by using them as content for paying players.

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Utakata

And I am just indicating the actions regarding a disingenuous cash shop model may end up driving game’s paying customers to the competition. I am pretty sure that’s not good for the game’s bottom line. /shrugs again

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Slaasher

This game cannot thrive with a P2W platform, and the best way to prove this is to NOT BUY THE PACKS.”

The BEST way to prove this is to not play the game

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Sorenthaz

The dilemma of course is that people who supported it and enjoy it are basically being told ‘don’t play it anymore and give up on it’ in order to get the message across to Epic.

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Arktouros

That’s inherent in every system however. For example when people “voted with their wallets” in a subscription MMO games it meant they’d lose access to the game.

The critical difference in a F2P title is there’s the temptation there to continue playing even if you decided to stop paying. Except by continuing to play you provide content for those who do pay and thus support the game’s business model you dislike indirectly.

Now that’s your decision, by all means continue to play, just realize that means your criticism means very little since at the end of the day they know you’ll keep playing regardless of how loudly you are barking against their changes.

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Slaasher

People should do what they wanna do. But in the end the only real bargaining chip we have as gamers is to play or not to play.

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Dug From The Earth

After the lootcrate success in Fortnite, why wouldnt Epic carry it over to their other game?

/s

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Sorenthaz

I am honestly half expecting there to be a hidden $100 ‘Challenger’ or ‘Master’ or ‘Ultimate’ pack that only shows up for those who buy the Diamond one.

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BDJ

The bottom line is this. They need to make money. If people were spending money on the game, they wouldnt have to resort to this. Everyone thinks they should get everything free in life. Whales exist because of freeloaders.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

There’s no “need” here.

Fortnite, a game that plans to be free in a year, is doing something very similar.. and go figure, they’re from the same company.

Epic Games is owned by Tencent, who are huge and rather profitable. It’s not a coincidence both of these games sell rather expensive up-front packs, and then load on the P2W add-ons once you’re in game. In the case of Fortnite, those add-on packs are fairly heavily tied to the game’s progression. Sure, they might fix it in a year or so.. but by then they’ll have milked most of their player base.

This double-dipping of up front costs, on top of heavy P2W packs once you’re in game, isn’t a sign of need. It’s plain greed.

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ozzie

Even if people were spending money on the game, things like this would still probably happen. It’s hard to say no to more money. Sure, it would hurt the game in the long run, but I don’t think these guys are considering a long run.

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Richie K

Of course they need to make money so why not just actually give the items that are being claimed worth $150 when someone pays $150? Why is there the chance to shell out “a ton of money and still be out of luck”?

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Utakata

“Everyone thinks they should get everything free in life.”

You say that if it where a bad thing. o.O

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Armsbend

You will never succeed in a moba if even the slightest perception of p2w exists. Might as well pull the plug today.

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Greaterdivinity

There’s a balance to walk between needing to generate revenue and harming your game by overly aggressive monetization. We’ve seen this again and again, and while many (I’d argue most) folks are sympathetic and understanding of a companies need for revenue, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to be happy to have their game monetized to hell.

It’s also on the companies to set reasonable revenue expectations for their titles to ensure that they don’t find themselves in positions like this. From everything I’ve seen, Epic made a pretty huge investment with this game, despite the MOBA space being pretty crowded and having well established players. I can’t fault them for trying, but their execution has been incredibly inconsistent over the months from what I’ve seen as a casual observer, which is likely a result of the games struggles and their continued efforts to position it as a major, AAA MOBA.

And no, not everyone thinks that they should get everything for free. That’s a nonsense non-argument.

Reader
Sorenthaz

Cards in Paragon are the direct equivalent of buying in-game items in Smite, DotA, LoL, etc. Just to clarify why this is a huge issue.

Reader
Sorenthaz

There is also no way to directly craft cards (or gems which are another thing on top of the cards and are even harder to obtain from chests) in order to obtain specific ones that you want/need in order to build competitive decks/loadouts. This is probably one of the biggest reasons why there’s so much flak and why it’s being considered ‘P2W’ because there is literally no way to guarantee that you can play on a competitive level in this MOBA no matter how much money/time you spend on it. Not having certain cards/gems is literally equivalent to not being able to purchase certain items in other MOBAs.

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ogged451

News at 10 : game developer says ‘A’, then does ‘not A’

Mitzruti
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Mitzruti

In this case it looks like director said “we won’t do this” and then got fired by suits who don’t understand why doing this is bad so they could do it anyway.

presbytier
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presbytier

They kind of have to do something as very few people are playing this game. Although another reason why they should just stick to building game engines.

Reader
Simon F

As I don’t know what are in those crates, I don’t know how important they are. However, claiming that a MOBA is P2W seems quite ridiculous. Look at League of Legends with over 100 different playable characters, or champions as they call them. Of course, having access to all of them greatly increases your chances of being able to counter what your opponent throws at you. However, just because you’re good with one doesn’t mean you are good with another. It’s not a shooter where you unlock weapons, and one is just straight up better than the previously and handles the same.

While it’s certainly concerning, I think straight up calling it P2W is absurd. However, as I said, I don’t know what are in those crates, I don’t know how the system works. If there are stat-ups, I’m totally against it, but if not, I really don’t think it deserves to be called P2W. What I’m more concerned about is the price of it all. While these things tend to be outrageously priced, I still think it’s crazy to spend $150 in one go like that.
It would be interesting if they added a subscription type deal where you got regular unlocks and such, that’s something I think would keep people playing. Because while they can take the cash and run away with it in big buys like that, if people don’t keep playing the game, they won’t have a revenue stream, which is not good.

Reader
Sorenthaz

Cards are in these crates. Cards are the direct equivalent to items in other MOBAs, y’know the ones you purchase throughout the progression of a match to get stronger and do whatever your role is.

Imagine that the items in Smite, DotA, or LoL were tied directly to RNG boxes and you wouldn’t be able to get stuff like an Infinity Edge in LoL without getting it in a chest first.

That’s why people are going crazy over this.

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Simon F

So in other words, you can buy to get stat boosts? I assume you still have to acquire the resource to use said cards, but the question then is; what can a player expect to have after a few hours of playing, and does that person still have a reasonable chance of winning?

It hardly seems like a problem for those who have played a bit, but when comparing fresh accounts it’s certainly not good. Some claim that it’ll mess with the competitiveness of the game, but you’re hardly going at each other with fresh accounts.

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Sorenthaz

Yes it’s not as big of an issue for long-playing players but here’s the thing: because it’s all tied to RNG and there is no way to directly get cards you specifically want, competitive builds become insanely difficult to acquire, and counter-builds aren’t even much of an option as well unless you get the right stuff.

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Armsbend

So are the cards permanently attached to your character? Do you still have to buy them with gold in game as you progress or do you automatically have it equipped at the start of the match?

Anyway…this seems to be getting really easy. Just avoid any game with the Epic logo is becoming a safe bet.

Reader
Sorenthaz

So the system is really convoluted in that every time you hit like 1000 gold you buy a point in one of three sats: Agility, Intellect, or Vitality (or something like that). Cards require a certain amount of points invested in those stats in order to use them, so for example you have to put 8 points in Agility to use a card that increases your basic attack damage by 15%, you need like 3 in Vitality and 8 in Agility in order to get an item that revolves around Lifesteal per hit. There are also gems which give you bonuses whenever you hit certain milestones in stats, i.e. X points in Agility can make basic ranged attacks spread out to fire three shots in a cone (similar to Runaan’s Hurricane in LoL).

Cards and gems are only obtained through chests which you acquire by leveling up your account and leveling up hero Masteries (similar to Heroes of the Storm masteries, except you pay currency to buy each tier of Mastery instead of buying the heroes themselves). Cards/gems that you have to select from are predetermined by the deck/loadouts (whatever they call them) you build up, and of course they give you a handful of default ones which are enough to get your feet wet with the system.

So basically it creates this issue where there are optimal/cookie cutter builds or even just situational counter builds are all locked behind this RNG system, and there isn’t even a way to directly obtain cards that you want. Duplicates cannot be broken down into some sort of card crafting resource, nor can they even be broken down into basic currency that could be used to buy more chests; instead duplicate cards are only used to ‘upgrade’ cards/gems so that you get more stats out of them in VS AI matches only and that is literally the only justification they use for making duplicate cards a thing.

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Armsbend

That is convoluted. Have you spent a good deal of time in it? I think I’d just move on if I were you. *shrug* glhf!

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Sorenthaz

Eh, I got back into it somewhat over the past few weeks but it still doesn’t really hold a candle to Smite at the moment. I like that it does some things differently than Smite and has way more potential with its engine, but Epic really knows how to turn people off from it.

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Armsbend

I decided to watch a stream today and it’s pretty hard to watch. The creeps seemed to matter way too much to the overall pvp aspect, players were way too hard to kill and the retreat back to your tower method made the game seem really slow paced.

I never played SMITE it made me want to really give it an honest go.

But for now to HotS! New season of ranked just started!

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Sorenthaz

Yeah, creep score makes a huge difference in Paragon but it’s actually a chore to try and get last hits on a wave. It feels incredibly unintuitive especially as a ranged hero, and you know it’s problematic when they band-aid it by slapping in starter cards that help you execute minions when they hit a certain low % of health.

Like, I’ve literally just stood there waiting for minions to slowly whittle down one another so I can get last hits on them. It just doesn’t feel good at all in Paragon.

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Armsbend

The main reason I play hots over anything else is I absolutely hate the idea of last hitting. I just want to fight.

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Slaasher

YOu “build” your deck of support cards before you go in to the match. Then you get to use the cards in your deck as the game progresses. If you have a much better set of cards than your opponent it will likely be hard for them to win.
Consider the cards to be just like armour and weapons in other games.

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Sorenthaz

Also with gems added on as extra bonuses for building into whichever stats you choose to focus so many points into.

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Tridus

Complaining means nothing if it’s not followed by action. Don’t give them any money and stop playing. They’ll notice that real fast.

At the end of the day, F2P BS works to get money. That’s why game companies do it. They will stop when it doesn’t get them money and not before, no matter how many whiny threads are created about it. At this point I pretty much only stick to paid games because I know what’s coming with F2P and have no interest in supporting it.

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Shiro Madoushi

Why not dive into the P2W market when there are so many whales happy to drop 10k into a game so they can be the best?

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Armsbend

So what’s the p2w aspect? Is this different from buying heroes in pretty much every MOBA?

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Greaterdivinity

Yowza, this doesn’t seem as shady as what they did with Fortnight, but it sure doesn’t help.

What the hell is going on at Epic? Has licensing money from UE gone up in smoke? I was kinda excited that they were getting back into making actual games again (new Unreal Tournament, Fortnight, Paragon) after years of them pretty much only making Gears of War, and the games they announced looked pretty great. But hot damn if their monetization efforts aren’t appearing to be shady/greedy as hell.

It’s like they’re making every monetization rookie mistake possible, which is confusing as hell given the pedigree that they come from. I get that they don’t have much experience with F2P proper, but it shouldn’t be that hard to hire competent folks given who they are and how mature the model has become over the years.

This is disappointing to watch : /

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Sorenthaz

Actually it’s shadier than what Fortnite did, because chests = cards/gems and cards/gems = literally the equivalent to items in LoL, DotA 2, SMITE, etc. Or I guess talents in Heroes of the Storm? lol.

Yes you are given default ones and they throw a lot of freebies at you early on, BUT it greatly hampers the ability to ever get a fully competitive deck/loadout because they currently do not have any way to directly obtain specific cards. It’s like they took Paladins’ card system, tied 90% of in-game power progression to it, and didn’t bother to add a deconstruction/crafting aspect that lets you eventually get everything you need/want.

So this is literally impacting in-game power progression because people who do not buy these packs will have a lower chance at getting all the cards needed to build competitive loadouts.

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Dug From The Earth

Im thinking Tencent is hard at work behind the scenes pretty much in all things Epic needs to monetize.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

It’s hard not to see that, honestly. The strange thing is that they own 40% of Epic, so they don’t have a majority and shouldn’t be able to exert this much pressure on them.

Honestly, at least for Paragon, I think it’s more that Epic invested far too much into the game and it never saw the kind of success that they were hoping for. They definitely went big at the start, but things appear much quieter. Not what one would expect from a financially thriving game, that’s for sure.

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Sorenthaz

Probably because they’ve been doing things weird from the start with their card system and whatnot. In this case they would’ve just been better off doing a mix of what Smite, LoL, HotS, and/or DotA 2 do.

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Armsbend

If the other shares of stock are diluted Tencent could be the largest holder of shares by a mile. With 40% I assume they are calling ALL of the shots.

If you owned 40% of Coca Cola every single thing you said would not only be heard but adhered to. You would own Coke.

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Vice Vandal

Epic just made a ton of money with their awful free to play model in Fortnite, I’m not surprised to see them switch to the same kind of bullcrap in Paragon.

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Dug From The Earth

Not an entirely true statement.

Epic made a lot of money selling early access copies of Fortnite, which later ended up being a bunch of upset players who found out that they were strongly pushed towards having to buy lockboxes. The success didnt actually come from tons of people buying the loot boxes.

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ozzie

The push most likely worked to some degree and made more than if they did just copies or just lockboxes. So collectively, it was probably a success. Like a combo chain of profit.

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