The developers behind early access survival smash-hit ARK: Survival Evolved recently released an expansion to their unfinished game, called Scorched Earth. It may be one of the best-selling things on Steam right now, but it’s also raised the ire of many of the game’s fans. To my mind, their anger is somewhat justified – releasing a paid add-on for a game that’s yet to be finished seems like profiteering. But the reality of it is probably far removed.
In a blog post, wildcard community guy Jat tried to clarify in light of the community outburst.
“Put simply: 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,” he says.
“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. Your feedback enables us to continually expand the game to become better than ever!”
“Scorched Earth: 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. 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.”
From their side, it seems like valid reasoning. The realities of game development on any scale are very different from the perception around it – but that still doesn’t mean you have to like it.