Developer Studio Wildcard faced a backlash over the weekend due to the release of the Scorched Earth paid expansion for ARK: Survival Evolved on the PC and Xbox One. The developer justified the release of DLC for the Early Access games late Monday, but the biggest justification may have come from how well it sold over the long Labor Day weekend.
The Scorched Earth DLC has sat atop the Steam Top Sellers list since it was first released on Thursday, September 1. Meanwhile, the main game has been the number two seller on the dominant PC service right behind it, in part thanks to a 40-percent-off sale that runs through Thursday, September 8.
Recent changes to the Xbox One store make determining how well the game and its expansion are doing impossible, unfortunately. Microsoft merged the console’s store with the Windows 10 Store. This has caused Xbox Game Preview titles like ARK: Survival Evolved to not be included in the “Top Paid” category.
As previously covered, the release of the Scorched Earth expansion caused a rift in the game’s community as players vocally complained about the addition of paid DLC to a game still in development. Fans pointed out how some bugs and issues from the ARK: Survival Evolved launch still linger. Others questioned whether Studio Wildcard was diverting resources from the main game to make the DLC instead.
Comments last September from Studio Wildcard Co-Founder Jesse Rapczack made it clear that the expansion was already planned and that the developer planned an early access-style release for the DLC too. The only change was ARK: Survival Evolved‘s release date changed from June, 2016, to Holiday, 2016.
Studio Wildcard still delivered a message to the game’s community expounding on these reasons, along with plans for future upgrades to ARK: Survival Evolved.
“We are absolutely committed to driving aggressive development towards a solid, feature-robust game launch for ARK: Survival Evolved. Everyone at Wildcard wakes up every day thinking about how we can make ARK into a better game today than it was the day before. It’s not always easy, but our intent is ever-forward progress towards a retail release that will be far more ambitious in scope and features than our original vision when we launched ARK into Steam Early Access in June 2015,” Studio Wildcard wrote before explaining where Scorched Earth fits in.
“Our original vision for ARK always included the creation of Expansion ARKs, along with the infrastructure and technical systems to transfer data dynamically between live ARKs, the developer pointed out.
“We determined that it is more sound to iterate on these systems during Early Access than after retail launch, given the significant risks involved if we didn’t ‘get it right.’
“While that meant unveiling the first Expansion early, it also means an easier time integrating further post-launch Expansions into the ARK network. We understand that this isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and we appreciate the enjoyment people seem to be getting out of this initial view of how Expansion ARKs can work. Now that we have the systems in place to support them, we can ensure minimal integration issues with subsequent releases after ARK: Survival Evolved itself has launched.”
In the immediate future, ARK: Survival Evolved for the PC will receive the 247 patch (via the official site) later this week to add the Tapejara and Archaeopteryx along with Dynamic-Length Bridges and possibly The Center update that adds more to the Edge of the World. Xbox One owners should receive this content sometime around the middle of September as part of the 740 update.
Studio Wildcard also plans to release “Procedurally Generated ARKs” to the PC next month, followed by the Xbox One later. This will move the game toward dynamic world creation similar to Minecraft and is possibly both one of the most exciting additions to the game, while also potentially the most perilous.
Meanwhile, Breeding Phase 3, Boss Ascension Cycle, and the long-awaited Tek Tier are currently having the final touches placed on them. Studio Wildcard also introduced a new dinosaur that will be added later down the line with the Stegosaurus’ cousin, Kentrosaurus.
Studio Wildcard has quite a bit of work to complete in these final couple of months before release. It will be interesting to see how ARK: Survival Evolved shapes up during that time.
What do you think of Studio Wildcard’s justification for releasing the Scorched Earth DLC to ARK: Survival Evolved while still in Early Access? Sound off in the comments below.
[Image via Studio Wildcard]