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Epic Games might never make another single-player game

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The future is free-to-play multiplayer

Epic Games has shifted its development focus away from single-player games, current and former members of the studio told Polygon. Fans should expect more titles like free-to-play online games Paragon and Fortnite from the studio, as opposed to the costly, campaign-driven titles — like Gears of War — that made it famous.

"The economics of those games forces developers to work with major publishers to succeed, and that seems to be irreversible," CEO Tim Sweeney said of the big-budget games that the company is now shying away from.

Instead, the company's creative focus now draws from a more "indie" spirit, Sweeney explained. The change began after the release of Gears of War: Judgment, another big-budget project for the studio. As it faced exploding development costs, the company recognized and began to embrace the trend of dynamic multiplayer releases that conform to the needs of players.

"We realized that the business really needed to change its approach quite significantly," he said. "We were seeing some of the best games in the industry being built and operated as live games over time rather than big retail releases.

"We recognized that the ideal role for Epic in the industry is to drive that," he said, "and so we began the transition of being a fairly narrow console developer focused on Xbox to being a multi-platform game developer and self publisher, and indie on a larger scale."

It's all part of Epic Games' new vision for itself, something we explore in-depth in this month's cover story. The new phase of the company will develop more multiplayer, community-driven games like Paragon, Fortnite and the new version of Unreal Tournament, as well as smaller titles. Each of these will be dynamic, the company said, meaning they may release "unfinished" and continue to change post-launch. There's also been talk of virtual reality projects in the works.

The change in focus was not to everyone at Epic's liking, however. Current and former members of the studio alike share their take on the past, present and future of Epic Games in our cover story on the company's evolution.