Studio Wildcard created a minor stir in the PlayStation and Xbox communities when it announced ARK: Survival of the Fittest was coming to the PlayStation 4 this summer. This was a surprise because the Hunger Games-style multiplayer game was spun-off from ARK: Survival Evolved, which is available on the Xbox One. The studio assured fans that the game will be coming to Microsoft’s console later Thursday evening and provided an explanation of the platform split.
“We strategically made the decision to initially release the two games on different platforms because we believe it is the most effective and efficient development process for our Studio,” Studio Wildcard Community Manager Jat explained in a Twitlonger post. “We have a ton of people working on both games across platforms – this can lead to a number of issues, people stepping on each other’s toes and a lot of wires getting mixed up. You guys even know how sometimes we mix up Xbox and PC.”
Jat is referring to instances with ARK: Survival Evolved where server messages meant for the PC went to the Xbox One instead. This naturally caused questions on the console and players to go through unexpected interruptions and possible death or a lost tame on the PC. It also resulted in the Community Management team scrambling around issuing apologies to the community.
“Going forward, we’ll be able to effectively develop across all 3 platforms, respond to player feedback and further optimize the game. This is better for all ARK players in the long run!” Jat continued.
“So don’t worry, you guys will all be getting a chance to play the ARK you want to play and that’s not all, we’ve got a lot more to announce this year. Wildcard is still going full-steam ahead and we’re going to be pushing optimization, content, patches, events, and a whole lot of Dinosaur fun along the way!”
Developer Jeremy Stieglitz also shared his thoughts on the decision to release ARK: Survival of the Fittest in a comment on the game’s website. He felt the need to sound off after some gaming outlets erroneously reported the game would be a PS4 exclusive.
Just wanna note that Sony didn’t pay for timed exclusivity. The reason for releasing [Survival of the Fittest] onto PS4 first is the necessity of publicly testing and optimizing the shared ARK codebase on PS4 in advance of the full Survival Evolved game release, and iterating on that PS4 codebase through a wide release. We’re just not large enough to do that effectively without the help of the public ARK community. As mentioned, it’ll also hit Xbox One later on.
The Xbox One version of ARK: Survival Evolved is available via Microsoft’s Game Preview Program, which is equivalent to Steam Early Access. This has allowed Studio Wildcard to essentially beta test the game with millions of players since it was released on the console in December 2015. There is no equivalent program currently available on the PS4.
Meanwhile, ARK: Survival Evolved is expected to officially launch sometime this summer. The original release date was June, but Creative Director Jesse Rapczack explained the studio expanded the release window to summer during an IGN livestream to introduce splitscreen on the Xbox One. That puts the official launch of Survival Evolved on the PC and Xbox One in mid-September if there are no additional delays. The PlayStation 4 version is expected to launch around the same time.
Studio Wildcard is at PAX East in Boston, Massachusetts, this weekend to promote ARK: Survival of the Fittest for the PC and PS4. Tournaments will be held on-site for the game and there is even a 16-foot rideable T-Rex for attendees to climb on and have their picture taken with. There will also be Twitch streams on the developer’s channel where more information about the game will be shared.
For those that aren’t familiar, ARK: Survival of the Fittest started as a total conversion mod for Survival Evolved that pits up to 72 players into a Hunger Games-like match. It is now a free-to-play stand-alone game available via Steam Early Access for the PC. The twist is, players are competing on an island full of dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures that can be tamed or kill you. Players are dropped around a circular platform in the center of the map, where they can make the decision to rush to the middle for supplies, weapons, and an early fight, or take off into the relative safety of the surrounding woods. It’s relative, because the woods are also filled with dinosaurs.
From there, it is a race to craft weapons and armor, plus tame animals without being killed by other players, animals, or your own poor planning. A force field surrounds the arena that slowly shrinks to force players back to the platform where the action all began. Along the way, events will happen in the world, such as carnivores suddenly spawning in to wreak havoc or acid rain to fall and cause damage to armor and players without some kind of shelter. Player profiles are projected into the sky as they die until only one is left standing and can be declared winner.
The Survivor League is Studio Wildcard’s eSports spin on Survival of the Fittest. It provides a dedicated eSport ranking, matchmaking, and rewards for ARK: Survival of the Fittest. The top-10 ranked players in each of the four game modes receive cash prizes of over $50,000. Winners also qualify for invitationals and other future events being planned by the studio to promote the game.
[Image via Studio Wildcard]
[Edit: Added paragraph explaining release timing for ARK: Survival Evolved.]