Paladins – Joining the Dark Side

Paladins is the best small team shooter I have played. In a world of a dominating Overwatch and several fail-(ed)/(ing) Overwatch clones, Paladins stood out as a game holding it’s own. It had a lot of good things going for it – a diverse and fun cast of characters, varied and enjoyable game modes, and most importantly a load out card system that permitted – and encouraged – experimentation of different builds of the same character. I had so much fun playing and according to Steam I played 130 hours of it. That is a lot for me to play a game. I was fully engaged on the official forums, discussing my suggestions for balance, trying to keep a positive community, and generally being helpful and engaging other players. I don’t normally do that in games, but there I was, being a Champion of the realm. (Editors note: That is the tagline for Paladins. “Champions of the realm”. Very clever of the author (who is also the editor) but due to the lack of coverage of the game in Blognation I felt necessary to point that out.).   Funny, my rise and fall of the game (May to August) seemed to coincide with the popularity of the game on the PC – according to Steam Charts.

Why did I stop? I started getting League of Legends syndrome with the game – where good, fair and fun matches were becoming harder and harder to find. When you have limited gaming time you want that time to feel good. Slowly but surely I lost my love for the game and when I started getting uncomfortable with their loot box mechanics  it was time to move on. I did not move to any other team base shooter, just took my crystals (in game currency) and uninstalled. All in all I spent $86.19 on the game and hadn’t spent all of my in game currency when I quit. On a side note, I think you should be able to gift away your currency when you quit a game, but that is a topic for another day.

What happened in August? Why did things start siding down?

  • According to the patch history Patch 56 (August) was when the new, Ranked 2.0 system launched. I wonder if that acted as a catalyst for people.
  • Patch 57 (August) launched a terribly unbalanced Champion (at the time) a sniper with stealth. People were dying on one-shots not knowing where it came from or how to counter.
  • Patch 58 (September) Launched their new VIP system and VIP membership buy in system
  • Patch 59 (September) added Talus, a new champion, but didn’t seem to be an issue
  • Patch 60 (October) added a Map and new quests
  • Patch 61 (October) added a new champion, Terminus, and a third person toggle (that allowed champions to see around corners and surprise attack people without counter-play)
  • Patch 62 (November) added Legendary Class Keys
  • Patch 63 (November) added a new champion, Vivian, who was (by reports) a tanky, high damage champion which was counter to traditional gameplay

Looking at that is death by 1000 cuts. You have a popular game, you start adding unpopular champions, you add new monetization methods, you add in cheese gameplay (third person toggle), and it looks like that the pace and rate of change exceeded Hi-Rez’s capability to keep the game compelling.

Patch 64 is the nail in the coffin. The final thing that will destroy what made this game great. I don’t blame Hi-Rez as they are probably desperate to remain relevant (and profitable) but by all accounts the new system they are launching in Patch 64 has most supporters of the game uninstalling. Players have been discussing, persuading, heck – BEGGING Hi-Rez to not go live with this patch but they are being ignored. This patch has all the same elements as the Battlefront 2 fiasco EXCEPT a more ostrich-like developer. They are launching “Cards Unbound” in less than 20 hours.

Cards Unbound, to the lay-person, non-Paladins player is simple to explain. Take the current card system that every Paladins player loves, that makes the game unique, and replace it with the Star Wars Battlefront 2 card system and progression system. Pure pay 2 win, random upgrade mechanics. The only reason why I know this is because I was considering reinstalling and seeing how the game was doing, but reading about this change and the community reaction has scared me away from that.

Normally, this attempt could be chalked up as a learning experience – except the market – and players – clearly spoke very loudly forcing EA to backtrack on this. So why, in the face of that clarity is Hi-Rez sticking to their guns?

Because they have no choice. That has to be the only reason. Obviously this game is in really dire straits and they are tossing the “hail mary” pass to try and right the ship. Unfortunately, there is a reason why football people call the “hail mary” pass “fail mary” because of the low percentage chance it has of succeeding. The real danger now is that even if Hi-Rez miraculously changes their mind last minute they are losing their core audience, and that is hard to come back from. Unless, of course,  they can replace that audience with enough people that loved the idea of the Battlefront 2 progression system. Does that sound likely?

I wish them luck but am sad and disappointed. It was nice to have a challenger to Overwatch who did something better and unique – but ultimately if the business goals of the company were not being met by the current design of the game they have to tr something different.

Even if that attempt is the exact opposite of what most fans of the game were hoping for.

8 comments / Add your comment below

  1. That’s a shame, considering the same dev’s work on SMITE has yielded nothing but positive results, and the RMT stuff is purely fluff or access to things like the Fantasy league etc. I haven’t played Paladins in quite some time, but seeing this makes me not want to go back either.

    Side note: The only time I’ve ever referred to a Fail Mary was the one that Russell Wilson threw a few years back and the Packers clearly intercepted it in the end zone, while one Ref is throwing up the touchdown signal and the other is waving the play dead and incomplete. A Seahawk came up with the ball and they were credited with a touchdown. Otherwise, Hail Marys are a thing Rodgers does in his sleep.

  2. My previous comment was eaten…

    Shame about Paladins, I haven’t played in quite some time but not I think I’ll join you in the uninstallation. A shame, as the same devs haven’t made these mistakes with SMITE and that game seems alive and well, only charging for fluff (and chests that contain fluff). You’d think they’d know better especially with the EA fiasco.

    Side note: The only fail mary I’ve heard of was during the Seattle Green Bay game a few years back where Russell Wilson hucked it into the endzone and it was broken up/intercepted but one ref said touchdown and the other said incomplete, a Seahawk came up with the ball and they credited them with a touchdown. Otherwise hail marys are a thing Rodgers does in his sleep 😉

    1. Looks as though it didn’t get eaten, will leave both up for prosperity! I remember that play very well (that and Rodgers successful one). One stat I read was that it had a 2% success rate over 70 yards. That is actually higher than I suspected!

  3. Never tried this game but it’s always miserable when monetization efforts take over the game, and even worse when a previously good game gets wrecked over time. Good rundown of the sequence of events going from fun to not.

    1. The rundown was a last minute curiosity – trying to see which events were leading to it’s decline. There were no new launches in the category during that period (couple cancellations, actually). That was where I made the conclusion that this change is actually a critical about face to see if they can reverse player decline.

  4. It’s not a “Hail Mary” move. It’s a “let’s grab the cash of the whales before the inevitable end” move. They have given up hope on the game.

    1. It’s a shame too, because it was a great game and was something different. Capitalism is broken because a company making steady profits and income is considered a complete failure. Companies are expected to have uncontrolled, unsustainable growth. I read somewhere that biology has a term for that – it’s called cancer.

      (Wish I remember where I saw that, it’s a powerful statement and very true in the expectation of perpetual growth capitalism)

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