Paradox Interactive (not to be confused with Paradox Entertainment, from which it split off) is a Swedish computer-game publisher, which has a prominent internal development studio — Paradox Development Studio. The internal studio generally focuses on historical Real-Time Strategy games. Unlike most Real-Time Strategy games, the Paradox games tend to have a greater focus on the Grand Strategy level — you control not individual units but the resources of entire nations.
Pre-2010, because of the scope of their games and a lack of budget, internal Paradox games were (in)famous for being incomplete and buggy at release, having a cliff-side learning curve whilst lacking proper tutorial, and utilizing unimpressive graphics and UI. However, Paradox reliably mitigated these flaws by providing decent support post-launch, maintaining a dedicated forum, and listening to customer feedback on said forum, allowing them to foster consumer trust despite all the problems their games had. Especially since their games filled a niche that pretty much wasn't catered to by anyone else. Because when a PDS game wasn't bugging out and the player had access to Google, the depth of their games provided a great deal of replay value.
With online gaming platforms like Steam taking off, Paradox Interactive and its studio finally hit double A status in the 2010s with their cult-followed niche titles and a strong back catalog, leading to the streamlining and cleaning-up of their games' interfaces and mechanics while keeping the depth and mod-friendliness of the games that carved their niche, alongside having a better and bigger QA team. The increase in accessibility and quality of their games is apparent when one compares a pre-2010 Paradox game to a post-2010 one, with Victoria II being the turning point. However, their post-2010 games have been observed to be perpetual betas in terms of mechanics; games like Stellaris and Imperator: Rome being two of the more extreme examples.
PDS games also employ a game engine with fairly intuitive code. This, plus the fact that they have very supportive sub-forums dedicated to modding, encourages all to mod the games to their liking and even attempt to fix bugs themselves if they feel particularly codey. It's not unfair to say Paradox has been a strong proponent of Game Mods since the early days of the internet age.
On the publishing side, they tend to go for niche but highly replayable titles from a wide variety of genres, e.g. Penumbra, Mount & Blade, the Magicka series, Dungeonland, Cities: Skylines and Pillars of Eternity.
Games and series developed by Paradox Interactive or Paradox Development Studio:
- Europa Universalis: The Flagship Franchise of the company, focusing on the period of roughly 1400-1820
- Europa Universalis (2000)
- Europa Universalis II (2001)
- Europa Universalis: Crown of the North (2003)
- Two Thrones (2004)
- Europa Universalis II: Asia Chapters (2004)
- Europa Universalis III (2007)
- Europa Universalis III: Napoleon's Ambition (2007)
- Europa Universalis III: In Nomine (2008)
- Europa Universalis III: Heir to the Throne (2009)
- Europa Universalis III: Divine Wind (2010)
- Europa Universalis IV (2013): Note - Has a lot of small expansion packs not listed here
- Hearts of Iron: A diplomatic and strategic wargame focusing on World War II. Has had three sequels. The 3rd most popular flagship franchise.
- Hearts of Iron (2002)
- Hearts of Iron II (2005)
- Hearts of Iron II: Doomsday (2006)
- Hearts of Iron II: Iron Cross (2010)
- Arsenal of Democracy (2010): A fan created game based on the HOI2 engine published by Paradox as a standalone game
- Darkest Hour: A Hearts of Iron Game (2011): A fan created game based on the HOI2 engine published by Paradox as a standalone game
- Hearts of Iron III (2009)
- Hearts of Iron III:Semper Fi (2010)
- Hearts of Iron III: For the Motherland (2011)
- Hearts of Iron III: Their Finest Hour (2012)
- Hearts of Iron IV (2016)
- Hearts of Iron IV: Together for Victory (2016)
- Hearts of Iron IV: Death or Dishonor (2017)
- Hearts of Iron IV: Waking the Tiger (2018)
- Hearts of Iron IV: Man the Guns (2019)
- Hearts of Iron IV: La Résistance (2020)
- Hearts of Iron IV: Battle for the Bosphorus (2020)
- Hearts of Iron IV: No Step Back (2021)
- Chariots of War (2003)
- Victoria: Paradox's smallest of its 4 flagship franchises. Starts around the beginning Queen Victoria's reign (1838) and ends around World War I.
- Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun (2003)
- Victoria 2 (2010)
- Victoria 2: A House Divided (2012)
- Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness (2013)
- Victoria 3 (TBA)
- Victoria: An Empire Under the Sun (2003)
- Europa Universalis: Rome (2008): A Spin-Off of EU which is more character-centric in the manner of Crusader Kings, set during the time of the Roman Republic.
- Europa Universalis: Vae Victis (2008)
- Crusader Kings: Paradox's 2nd most popular flagship, focusing on The High Middle Ages and The Early Middle Ages
- Sengoku (2011): A game somewhat similar to Crusader Kings, taking place in Japan during the Warring States period.
- March of the Eagles (2013)
- Stellaris (2016): a space-based grand strategy game.
- Imperator: Rome (2019): A Spiritual Successor to EU:Rome, set in Antiquity and taking place during the rise of the Roman Republic.
The games also boast an active community of writers of After Action Reports. An interesting feature is the ability to import your saves from one game to another using official or unofficial software tools or (if you have a lot of time and patience) manually, theoretically allowing you to play the same game from 769 to 1963.
Games published by Paradox Interactive
- Svea Rike ("The Swedish Realm") : An Edutainment Game focusing on Swedish history. Sort of a predecessor to their later historically-themed games.
- Airfix Dogfighter: A game where you pilot a miniature plane and partake in a war waged by two World War II-based factions of plastic scale models inside a large human house. Developed by Unique Development Studios.
- Mount & Blade (2007), developed by TaleWorlds Entertainment
- Mount & Blade: Warband (2010)
- Magicka (2011), developed by Arrowhead Game Studios
- Magicka 2 (2015), developed by Pieces Interactive
- Cities: Skylines (2015), developed by Colossal Order
- From the Of Pen And Paper series:
- Pillars of Eternity (2015), developed by Obsidian Entertainment
- Tyranny (2016), developed by Obsidian Entertainment
- Steel Division: Normandy 44 (2017), developed by Eugen Systems
- Surviving Mars (2018), developed by Haemimont Games
- Surviving the Aftermath (2020), developed by Iceflake Studios
- BattleTech (2018), developed by Harebrained Schemes
- Prison Architect (2015), developed by Introversion Software
- Age of Wonders: Planetfall (2019), developed by Triumph Studios
- Empire of Sin (2020), developed by Romero Games
- Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2 (2021), formerly developed by Hardsuit Labs (current developer unknown)
Late 2010s, Paradox partnered with a number of game publishers to produce Tabletop Games based on their most popular titles.
Tabletop Games include:
- Magicka Mayhem (2016) funded through Kickstarter and published by Golden Bell Studios
- Crusader Kings The Board Game (2019) funded through Kickstarter by Free League Publishing.
- Cities Skylines The Board Game (2019) designed Rustan Håkansson
- Hearts Of Iron The Board Game (2019) by Eagle-Gryphon Games
- Europa Universalis The Price Of Power (2020) funded through Kickstarter by Aegir Games
- Unnamed Stellaris game (2020) by TTCombat, starting with a KickStarter campaign in 2019 to fund miniatures based on the Ether Drake and other Leviathans
- Stellaris Infinite Legacy (2022) by Academy Games
Tropes common in Paradox-developed games:
- Author Appeal: Easter eggs involving platypus, such as Australia getting renamed the Platypus Empire in Hearts of Iron III if it's turned into a People's Republic of Tyranny. One mammalian portrait in Stellaris is an "Alienized" platypus. Dev team member Moah is a fan. Of course, their own logo is a stylized platypus skeleton.
- Balkanize Me: Paradox games are notorious for their alternate maps ultimately resembling blood spatter. Fans even have a term for it: "border gore".
- Black Blood: It was very difficult to censure out the blood for the Chinese releases due to the issue above so they ended up with making the blood black instead.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Most games developed by them have a completely different feel as time goes on and new patches are released. E.g. playing a game of EU IV on an early version is a totally different experience as compared to playing it with the latest patch, and this is excluding the DLCs.
- Guide Dang It!: Paradox games - and even games merely published by Paradox - have a terrible tendency towards confusing User Interfaces, horrible Tutorials and hint boxes that do better at blocking the screen than helping the player. No matter your experience with the genre, you'll be scrambling for an online guide within twenty minutes.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Most of their games have anywhere from dozens to hundreds of factions, nearly all of them playable. Even the relative lightweight in this department, Stellaris, can support up to thirty empires (not counting special factions) on the largest map sizes.
- Moral Myopia/ Protagonist-Centered Morality: Across all games, the game narration praises the player's actions as an example of honor, righteousness, generosity, long-term thinking, practicality etc. etc. while the very same actions made by other countries are derided as "obvious" ploys, sign of desperation, greed etc. etc.
- Mind Screw: If you decide to really mess around in any game of theirs, it can lead to maps of these; by the end of, say, an Europa Universalis game, its entirely theoretically possible to have England somewhere in Asia, Ming to become a Persian Empire, and Morocco be based in the territory of Russia. And at times, the AI might produce such results itself.
- Running Gag: The "comet sighted" event.
- Originally started with Europa Universalis, this event leads to a drop in stability (due to comets being seen as a bad omen), and it's infamous for having all options leading to the same outcome. "It's an omen" is the original option, "The end is nigh!" is added with the "In Nomine" DLC, "Ignore the peasant rabble." is added with the "Heir To The Throne" DLC, and "Don't look at the sky!" is added with the "Divine Wind" DLC.
- A similar "Comet sighted" event is present in Victoria 2, it however is a positive event granting you research points. It also has a number of choices giving the same, positive effect. The choices are: "Thank God we live in such enlightened times."; "Keep looking at the sky!", and "colonised comet would make a fine satellite! "
- In Crusader Kings II, comet sightings will sometimes appear in chronicles generated when you quit the game. Also, with "Way of Life" DLC, characters with learning focus can choose to pursue astronomy studies and observe comets, eventually concluding "So it's just a comet, not an omen of the end times..."
- Europa Universalis 4 takes this "Up to Eleven", the list of options for this event becomes painfully long as more and more DLCs are released.
- "It's an omen!" and "The end is nigh!" are original options from Europa Universalis 3
- "I wish I lived in more enlightened times..." was a "Shout-Out" to an option in Victoria II
- "economy, fools!" was added in with "Wealth of Nations" DLC
- "Sacrifice a human heart to appease the comet!" was added with the "El Dorado" DLC
- "If only we had comet sense..." was added with the "Common Sense" DLC
- "Oh Comet, devil's kith and kin..." was added with the "Cossacks" DLC
- The "Morton's Fork" was finally averted after "Rights of Man" DLC, which adds personality system for rulers. A country with scholarly ruler will just react "Fascinating" and gain 20 adm power instead of losing stability.note
- Hearts of Iron IV has a "Komet sighted" event, which occurs after Germany invents the rocket interceptor Me163 (nicknamed "Komet").
- Stellaris also has a comet sighted event, with effects depending on your country's ethos.
- Stellaris has an additional "Asteroid sighted" event, in which an asteroid heads straight for one of your colonized planets. It can be destroyed by even a modest fleet, or even the local starbase.