Epic Games is finally ready to bring MOBA shooter Paragon to the masses. Today, the studio announced that the game's Early Access period will begin on March 18 on PC and PlayStation 4. Paragon will be free-to-play once it launches, but players who want to get in on the Early Access action can pick up one of the Founder's Packs.
The basic Founder's Pack is $19.99, offering access to the game, additional skins and boosts, and other cosmetic items. The Challenge Pack and Master Pack will cost $59.99 and $99.99 respectively and offer more skins, more unlockable items, and a Founder's Pack for a friend. All three packs will go on sale on March 14.
"Paragon is still in development," explained Paragon creative director Steve Superville on Reddit. "The game is missing features, and some of the content is placeholder. We don't yet have a lot of features to make it easier to understand for new players, and some systems (for example: cards and deck building) require a lot of patience."
"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."
Free-to-play games offering paid early access or packs with special content isn't anything new. Blade & Soul and Black Desert Online are both MMOs who offered early entry and additional perks for those who were willing to throw some money their way. Hi-Rez' Paladins is a free-to-play hero-based shooter that is currently in beta and anyone who wants to play now can pick up a Founder's Pack. Blizzard Entertainment did the same with Heroes of the Storm prior to launch, but its own shooter, Overwatch, is a paid release.
It's not entirely surprising, but fans have gotten used to the Founder's Pack idea and Early Access rather easily. Unless your game is doing something wrong, there's always going to be a groundswell of consumers who want to be a part of the process early. The Founder's Pack idea sidesteps one of the biggest problems with Early Access: the developer may not finish the game. For most Founder's Pack games, you know the game is going to be released, but you're getting in before everyone else and maybe getting a cool costume or two. Depending on your hype levels, it's a win for you and the developer.