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Epic Games releases $12M worth of Paragon assets for free (unrealengine.com)
554 points by program on Mar 19, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 126 comments



The Paragon closure has come with a surprising number of upsides compared to the usual collapse of a game. I really wish more companies opened up their assets (or even the game code) upon the closure of a game they've written off.

The other highlight note is that when Epic decided to shutdown Paragon, they opened up the refund offer for all purchases, not just really recent ones. They've taken essentially a complete loss on this entire project, that I believe had upwards of 100 developers working on it at one point.

But given Fortnite's success, plus the general solid padding of cash Epic always gets from having one of the most popular game engines that everyone else uses, means they can afford it.


> They've taken essentially a complete loss on this entire project

It's a genius financial and strategical move, predicated by having a lucky monster success elsewhere in the company that required a quick influx of resources (Fortnite). They can effectively write off a failed game over the next 5 years, and reduce their tax burden as a result. They then act as a "benevolent" actor to the gaming development community by giving away assets that have no financial incentive to them. So they get a nice influx of resources and get to advertise to a new pool in the same breadth. That's a win-win.

EDIT: I should also note - I was a benefactor of shifting my payment from Paragon to Fortnite. Given that it had no variable cost to give me $20 worth of skins in Fortnite, that's a pretty solid user acquisition strategy.


I don't see why benevolent needs to be in quotes in your comment.

Regardless of whatever financial or tax upside they get from doing this, the upside the game development community gets is the same.

They are doing something they really didn't need to do, and as GP pointed out, most companies don't do.


"As with all of Epic’s internally developed assets, the Paragon assets are only licensed for use in Unreal Engine 4."

This is marketing for their game engine. They don't have to do it, sure. But SaaS companies don't have to provide free blogs, webinars and e-books either but we don't pretend they are benevolent for doing so.

Don't get me wrong. I think more art assets available in the game dev community is a good thing. I think more free stuff from one company (Epic in this case) will beget more free stuff from their competitors (Unity mainly). I'm just pointing out that this isn't free for the sake of being benevolent. It's free for the sake of capturing market share.


> I'm just pointing out that this isn't free for the sake of being benevolent. It's free for the sake of capturing market share.

this seems like it could be a false dichotomy. it's not obvious why it can't be both.


Benevolent: "(of an organization) serving a charitable rather than a profit-making purpose."

That's not how this word works. We can use another one.

I hasten to add, again, that I'm attributing nothing pejorative. I'm glad Epic have done this. It's great marketing that may be helpful to lots of people.


"benevolent" wasn't being used to describe the organization, it was being used to describe a particular action.


The issue is this action isn't benevolent. It's nice, but as said previously it's to promote their engine. So they will profit from it indirectly.

If on the other hand they would release the assets without strings attached (for use with any game engine / in any way) then I'd say this word would apply.


and my point was that this seemed like a false dichotomy.


True. A dichotomy cannot explain for example tax deductible donations: they're obviously self advertising at much lower cost than a real PR campaign, still they benefit someone, so we probably should use a trichotomy like "I'm doing good even if it has a sustainable cost" - "I'm doing good only if it somehow benefits me as well" - "I'm not doing good because being evil brings even more profit than the above".


> This is marketing for their game engine.

Which faces _stiff_ competition against the Unity engine. Epic is the incumbent in the space and the success of Unity in the last several years must be a huge concern for Epic.

Epic has always been a game engine developer first and foremost, so anything to claw back market share from Unity is going to be a calculated strategic move on their part.


I don't think it's quite that clear. Sure Epic has been in the game engine market longer, but it was only relatively recently that they entered the non-AAA market due to a major change in licensing. Unity was really the incumbent in that space at the time. In some ways Epic is the up and comer. You can also see that as Unity has had to react strongly to Epic's entry into the market.


Indeed. Tired of people associating benevolence with no monetary reward whatsoever.


I'd argue benevolent belongs in quotes. Not to question the very clear upside to the game development community. But rather to acknowledge that Epic is likely anticipating the benefits to itself as a company will be higher than the costs.


I would disagree that a prerequisite of a corporation being benevolent is losing money.

There was no requirement of giving away the assets in order to gain the tax benefits.


> I don't see why benevolent needs to be in quotes in your comment

> most companies don't do.

Because most companies are for-profit entities. Most companies don't do this because they aren't in this specific situation. Most gaming companies have really delicate economics (high up front capital costs, with less than guaranteed returns).

Call me cynical all you want, but the idea that video gaming companies (of all industries) are somehow out to provide benevolently for it's software developing community is laughable at best (see EA, Ubisoft, Zynga etc). The video gaming market is rife with abusing long hours out of it's employees.


> see EA, Ubisoft, Zynga etc

You're cherry picking a handful of awful companies for the sake of making a point about the entire industry.



You built your own straw man.

Nobody said that video gaming companies "are somehow out to provide benevolently for it's software developing community."

If we were talking about Epic Games giving $100 to each American, that wouldn't follow either.

But if you can't acknowledge that some decisions are more well-meaning than others, you're just sour grapes.


Asking employees to work long hours in order to meet deadlines is not unique to the games industry.


It's not an ask when made a condition of employment.


It can be both. Doing good by others does not require absolute zero benefit for yourself. The total refund is a win for Epic and it’s customers alike.


>reduce their tax burden

Why do people always make this argument? Loss is loss. You're financially better off if you make money, even if you have to pay taxes on it.


Yeah, I don't understand how this reduces anything.

Can someone explain?


You pay taxes on capital gains.

Suppose that Epic made P income from Paragon and I income from everything else. They are taxed at T.

So if they return P to customers, that's a loss. So they will pay (I - P) * T in taxes and end up with (I - P) * (1 - T).

Suppose they kept P, that's gain. So they will pay (I + P) * T in taxes and end up with (I + P) * (1 - T).

So even though they pay less in taxes ((I - P) * T < (I + P) * T), they will end up with less money ((I - P) * (1 - T) < (I + P) * (1 - T)).


Whoa, even I couldn't follow this :)

Basically, what it means is the following:

Year 1 - I spent $10M on Paragon (let's pretend I've made a single dollar from it). I therefore have negative -$10M in profit, so I pay zero taxes.

Year 2 - I shut Paragon down. I still have $10M in losses from Paragon. Fortnite does $30M in Revenue and it cost me $20M to build Fortnite in Year 2. Theoretically I profited $10M in year 2 and I'd have to pay ~30% (thats not the real number, so don't correct me) of that in taxes, so I really only get to keep $7M of that to reinvest.

But I get to carry my loss forward from Year 1 onwards. So in theory I get to keep more of my profit due to a smaller tax burden. Generally speaking this is usually done over 5 years. So I'd take $10M and amortize it $2M ever year. Meaning Year 2, instead of paying 30% of $10M, I would pay 30% of 8M, so $2.4M versus $3M. It's obviously way more complicated than this, but this is the gist.


You're describing the situation assuming that Epic has already taken the loss.

I'm describing the tradeoff between intentionally taking the loss (i.e. allowing returns of the game) vs keeping the profits they've made.


I don't get your math, but (I+P) - (I-P) = 2P. It seems wrong that that the difference between the two scenarios is 2P.


You basically can take a Tax deduction on capital losses, meaning paying less tax (Super simplifying the complex US Tax Code) https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/062713/capit...


It reduces the taxes they pay, but only because they make less profit.

They still have less money and it is in no way better than if Paragon had made a profit.

The "yeay it failed! we get a tax write-off" thing is stupid and wrong.


its not that clear when you international subsidiaries. companies, when it comes to taxes, can have the cake and eat it too.


I come in peace. You're not a benefactor given that you are the one who benefited


And hopefully get more devs to use their platform (Unreal Engine) using these assets as their entry point, giving them dank licensing money if there is a good game amongst the many mediocre ones.


It still takes time and energy to package and release something to the public, even if it is assets.


Deleted


Paragon was/is already a F2P "monster".


> I really wish more companies opened up their assets (or even the game code) upon the closure of a game they've written off.

Or just old games in general. Many rewrites of old games are hampered by the lack of assets.


Sure, but there's a big difference in how a company sees the value. If you're talking about a property the company found success with, they surely want to hang onto the copyright and exclusive control of those assets with which to make sequels and the like, or even remasters and re-releases as Nintendo often does.

I particularly feel we need to clear up the copyright drama for abandoned works in particular, but there's a reasonable point that plenty of companies do continue to use and sell their game content for a very long time.

A failed project has very little value for the purposes of monetizing again later, you don't make a sequel to a game that you didn't make a profit on (usually). So it's a particularly good category to give away to the community.


I'm interested to see if Epic releases the entirety of the remaining assets, while they are no longer interested in developing the game there was a small but dedicated community that was sad to see the game shutdown. It would be interesting to see the community take over the game and continue to give it life, and it wouldn't be the first time this has happened (see Allegiance/FreeAllegiance as an example, Microsoft just re-licensed the game under the MIT license last year at that - it was already available under the MSR-SSLA for quite a while).


Well to Epic, their games are usually a showcase of their engine. It makes sense to open source their assets.

It also helps that Fortnite is a massive success.


"They've taken essentially a complete loss on this entire project, that I believe had upwards of 100 developers working on it at one point."

Not really, they're doing that on purpose to put everyone on Fortnite, it's a very different story.


Wow I hadn't heard about the refunds. That's really uplifting.


Well, in this case Epic and whoever benefits from these assets are taking the Taxpayer for a ride. So this is a “convenient” incentive to Epic and others who use these assets (as opposed to inconvenient, as when it happens with [company not relevant to the SV echo chamber]).

A) Epic closes Paragon down

B) Epic opens Paragon assets

C) Epic deducts Paragon losses from their earnings, saving on federal taxes

D) Companies that build assets based on these assets do so while getting a nice taxpayer-enabled corporate welfare check.


C) would happen regardless of the other items.


My understanding is that this happens when an asset is written off. I understand it would be either now [with the action], or over time [without this action]. Maybe a person with an accounting background can correct me so I can edit my comment. Thanks for bringing this potential issue up.


pretty much all corporate expendature is tax deductable.


Software is an asset that depreciates over time. It's not an expenditure in the sense of when one spends money on, say, a trip, which would become an instant expense.


Epic is absolutely SWIMMING in money thanks to what was essentially a weekend project by two of their engineers.

Fornite BR is exploding in popularity, with Ninja recently streaming with Drake, Kim Dotcom and another popular rapper. They broken the all-time record with 620k+ viewers at 2am!

I'm sure their success facilitated the decision to release this for free and also give out refunds for Paragon. Win/win for them!


> Epic is absolutely SWIMMING in money thanks to what was essentially a weekend project by two of their engineers.

Are you talking about Fortnite in general, or the Battle Royale mode?

The weird thing is that my impression is that Fortnite was talked about for awhile as this Horde-mode construction game, sort of like minecraft meets L4D. Then the BR F2P mode was added and the whole thing blew up.


>Then the BR (F2P) mode was added and the whole thing blew up.

Summary of video games in the last 5 years.


5 years? PUBG is probably the first massively successful battle royale game and it's not been 2 years yet.

H1Z1/Rust/etc are all a continuous survivalist game and other games were mostly mods.

I'm personally excited to see where Activision or EA take the genre (Blizzard too but I don't see that happening anytime soon).


Well, pivot while you can...


I always felt bad for the devs of the actual Fortnite game. Its clear lots of time and resources were poured into what was actually a pretty good horde style survival/crafting game, then the little BR offshoot came along and now whenever someone says "Fortnite" I just assume they mean BR because no one actually plays the survival game.

I guess they can't complain about the success but it would have to feel at least a little bit demoralizing.


Pretty fleshed-out, pretty feature-rich, pretty long developed - but not pretty good. If it was pretty good we would be talking about the fort construction mode in PUBG now.


Same with Warcraft 3 and DOTA right?


Wasn't Dota a mod? Like, the guy who made it had the intention to make this game (with the help of WC3)


Custom map technically, although the WC3 map editor let you write custom code so the line is kind of blurry.


Sure.

I just had the impression DOTA was made by some guy who wanted to make something like DOTA and Fortnite was made by some people who wanted to make some mix of L4D and Minecraft, but pivoted to doing something like PUBG instead.


lol, serendipity.

As far as I know the regular mode is not free to play.

I only tried it because it was a free alternative to PUBG


The regular mode will be F2P, it's just currently in the "founder's pack" stage of F2P games.


I find Fortnite BR really special - greater than the sum of its parts. I'm an avid gamer who does not like FPS as a rule, but I'm also always looking for one I'd enjoy. BR is the first FPS I've been delighted by since Quake 3.


Fortnite is 3rd-person though, maybe you meant shooters in general?


Is there a link to where I could see a recording of the Ninja, Kim Dotcom & Drake game by any chance? Or a link to a stream recording? Thanks so much! Had no idea Fortnite has become that big. It always seemed too "cartoony" for me (as compared to PUBG).


Just search ninja's youtube, it should come up to the top.

Cartoony makes it fun in a way that realistic graphics based games just can't match because of the aesthetic. It begs a silly-ness to elements that make it enjoyable and Epic can refresh at will (player skins for St. Pattys day, hidden Llama's on the map, Chinese new year theme, etc.)


Twitch VODs are automatically deleted after a couple of days, so either check it out now at https://twitch.tv/ninja (with the chat archive intact) or watch the recap on his YouTube channel.


Travis Scott was the other rapper playing with them. Juju Smith-Schuster of the Pittsburgh Steelers also joined them for a while.


Wasn't Fortnite just a quick clone of PUBG once they saw it taking off?


Sort of, but Epic Games seem to actually know how to program. PUBG, not unlike it's former competitor H1Z1, has languished with a terrible code base whose technical debt seems to have kept PUBG from ever really fixing things. The netcode is bad, the game runs AWFUL on all setups (Twitch streamers with state of the art computers were forced to play on low settings while streaming on the same computer), and there seem to be some particular performance issues with AMD CPUs.

Cheating is also a major issue.

So it was a clone, but basically a better one than the original.

Fortnite is the first survivor game that just works.

I felt bad for PUBG first, but PUBG is still such a huge mess, I do have to give it to Epic for building an extremely solid game that runs well and isn't rife with cheaters.

Shame about the business model, though.


Helps when you have inside knowledge of how the every part of the engine works though.


This where the quotes around "benevolence" would come in. I'm a total fanboy for PUBG, so take this with a grain of salt, I totally understand why Bluehole threatened to sue when Fortnite released its PUBG copy. Now PUBG is in-and-of itself a copy of a copy (turtles all the way...) of a mod, so a lot of people balked at this.

PUBG had made quite a bit of money for Epic, through the UE4 licencing fees. This is akin to Amazon noticing how much money you made them through AWS and deciding to offer a free (arguably better, although I've never played more than 5 minutes of Fortnite, too much cartoon!) version of your product.

TBH, that analogy may be a bit unfair, but Epic is no saint.


Amazon does that with games in that they're offering the lumberyard game engine (a fork of crytek) for free as long as you use AWS.

Amazon ALSO makes Amazon basics branded knock off of the popular physical items in store. There's an article about an aluminum laptop stand you might be able to Google for.


Fortnite BR is. The Fortnite game is not.


>> "As with all of Epic’s internally developed assets, the Paragon assets are only licensed for use in Unreal Engine 4."

'You've raised my hopes and dashed them quite expertly, sir - bravo!'


> Epic Games releases $12M worth of Paragon assets for free

> The assets, built at a cost of over $12 million...

It's a common mistake to assume that something is worth what it cost to create it.


Value is relative, right? It depends on who looks at it. To Epic, they're definitely worth $12M whilst to you and me it's probably not more than a couple hundred bucks (unless you're a game dev in need of assets, that is),


> To Epic, they're definitely worth $12M

No, that's the fallacy. The assets are only worth $12 million to Epic if Epic has a viable way to reap $12 million in benefit from them. The fact that it cost Epic $12 million to create the assets has nothing to do with it. That's just sunk cost.


There's now a business loss of $12M on their books, so they're getting benefits on their next tax filing. That's where the real monetary value comes from.


> loss of $12M on their books

this is really hard to quantify independently, and they can use this figure to inflate their losses to claim more taxation benefit than otherwise deserved.

Why can't i say that I "lost" 12million developing my indie game, and therefore, claim some taxes off my casual contract work?


Which is a small percentage of $12M.


It cost $12m for them to make them.


What would it cost to re-make them at the same quality and quantity? $12M does not seem unreasonable at all.


seriously, like if someone builds an entire gaming company from these assets then it would be worth way more than $12M


One question before I cement Epic Games as a game company (or just tech company in general) that does things differently in an an interesting way: How easy is it to import/export models/ UnrealEngine assets to other platforms? If I want to use an asset from UnrealEngine in like godot, how easy would it be?

This is pretty massive if it's really a no-strings-attached release of assets to the community but the skeptic in me says there's no way it's just that


Looks like the assets are licensed for only to be used in UE4 based products https://www.unrealengine.com/marketplace/paragon-dekker


Aaaaand there it is. The've basically converted their writeoff to a lossleading/marketing spend. Nothing wrong with shrewd business moves, and I guess they're not trying to mislead people intentionally.

Well nice of them to release the assets at least, I'm sure devs who are already committed to UE4 are pretty stoked.


Im sure the people making quick asset flips won’t mind that.


What's the EULA on those assets? Are they UE4-only?


https://forums.unrealengine.com/unreal-engine/announcements-...

Q: How much do I have pay for the Paragon assets?

A: Nothing! They’re completely free. You can use them in both commercial and non-commercial Unreal Engine 4 projects.

Q: Are there any restrictions on the use of the Paragon assets?

A: As with all of Epic’s internally developed assets, the Paragon assets are only licensed for use in Unreal Engine 4.


Epic's assets on the marketplace are UE-only, yes.


Nice. I bet this is going to encourage more asset flips though.


What do you mean by asset flip? (And how would this encourage this)


An "Asset Flip" is a commercial game puzzled together from ready-made bits as cheap as possible (e.g. get some shooter template code, drop in some free/cheap character and weapon models, copy or make some really basic levels), without consideration for the quality of the resulting game.


If you've ever followed a Hello World game building tutorial for UE or Unity, somebody has taken the end result of that tutorial and placed it on a game marketplace somewhere.

It was/is a bit taboo, but the gaming phenomena PUBG also used UE marketplace assets, although they added value by making an enjoyable game around it.


I've generally heard the term used to refer to low-effort games that are basically just third-party assets packaged up and sold as a full experience, while having little to no "playable content". The availability of these assets could encourage this since they are freely available.


It's especially common to throw these together as "early access" games, pretending that they're still in development and will get deeper content at a later date.


Yeah, often it's ad-supported App Store / Google Play titles, where one developer uses the same engine with different assets to make many games and hope someone accidentally downloads them and clicks the ads.

Like the (in)famous Grab That Auto https://youtu.be/yU6WC4dpaHM


This reminds me of the Golgotha drop from 2000: unfinished code and assets from a scrapped game, released as open source/PD. I don't know what, if anything, ever became of those...


wow, thanks for reminding me of that. i remember this happening...brings back some memories. i was trying to learn to program my own games, and this event (despite the unfortunate circumstances) seemed like some gift from the gods in terms of being able to see the guts of a real game.

looks like some stuff is on github:

https://github.com/videogamepreservation/golgotha

https://github.com/saniv/golgotha


Can someone with more knowledge comment on how strictly tied to the unreal ecosystem these assets are?


As per their license, you cannot use them outside of UE4. This means that while you may be able to pull out the assets from your UE project and import them in Unity, it's not legal to do so.


Maybe you could use them in another engine if you show the Unreal engine logo on startup and pay for the licensing of the Unreal engine. (Though I assume other proprietary engines like Unity have rules against portraying their engine as another with the other's logo shown first.)


If you have money to get Epic to make an exception for you, you likely don't need freebies like these assets ;)


> This content is now available free of charge in the Unreal Engine Marketplace, where developers may download Paragon packs to use in their own UE4 projects.

So it's only for use in your UE4 project.


Per the linked post, they're only licensed for use in UE4.

You might be able to shoehorn them into something else, but copyright wise you're not authorized to.


I know nothing about game development or the likes. But I just browsed the site. Wouldn't it make sense to maybe create a torrent or huge iso file of this info instead of downloading each asset manually?


Brilliant, you can make a proof of concept VR game for example and make it look good.


Making 3d models look good on the screen and making them look good in VR usually optimize for different things.


I've had and have my disagreements and issues with Epic lately, but kudos where kudos are due. Nice job Epic, especially on the listening part. (now can we get more gnu/linux love please?)


Won't the people of the internet just use this for Source Factory type porn?


This is how you redeem yourself, when you screw over a gaming community.


.



oops


"Free" = For use in Unreal Engine only.


Deleted


Not really, I've worked on a few projects that never saw the light of day outside my dev environment, but it doesn't bother me because I still got paid. My purpose for working is to get paid.


You've just described commercial game development as a whole. The chance if working on something widely successful is pretty small.


The game had been out for a few years, but as a MOBA-style game (like DotA, or League of Legends; thus competing with two of the largest video games in the market period) it didn't attract a critical mass of players to keep the ongoing dev effort worthwhile.


Being tilted more toward the 3D shooter style, also competing against Overwatch. Different gameplay objectives, but "class based team shooter" could describe either of them.


to be fair moba is pretty universal/vague too.


Yeah, I honestly hate that name. Just by the meaning of words, Unreal Tournament is an "online multiplayer battle arena" but somehow it came to mean specifically "top-down Warcraft 3 custom map with fighting in 3 lanes" now.

But the lane fighting genre has been all downhill since Monday Night Combat anyway, so I'm happy to ignore it :P


A number of genre names are only meaningful because people already know what they refer to. Probably the best example is RPG, which ostensibly applies to effectively every game where the player controls a character with a persona.


for myself, the moba-ness was a neutral aspect. my disinterest really lay in feeling that the character design was quite dull and the visuals were generally uninteresting. but those impressions are from limited overall exposure.


I wonder which engine it works best with...


I wonder which engine is the only one you're allowed to use it in.


game assets tend to be highly engine-specific things by their very nature.

it can be possible to start from some raw assets when moving to another engine, but even then you may have, say, a character rig setup that's great in one engine but a huge pain in the ass in another.




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