Ark: Survival Evolved

The official servers for the last-gen version (A.K.A. the current version, at the time of this writing) of Ark: Survival Evolved are getting shut down at the end of August of 2023. This will only allow players to either solely play the single-player game, or play multiplayer via player-run unofficial servers. The reason for this, apparently, is that Ark 2 has been delayed out of 2023, so Studio Wildcard is going to release a current-gen updated version of the original Ark, titled Ark: Survival Ascended

Now, this was initially a pretty exciting announcement. I mean, who wouldn’t want a current-gen version of this dinosaur-filled survival game? Even for PC players, the prospect of playing an updated version of Ark on a new engine (with vaguely defined quality-of-life improvements) is pretty tantalizing. 

The problem is that this is a paid upgrade, with no path for anyone to get a discounted or even free update for those who already own the current version of Ark.

Ark; Survival Evolved

Earlier this year, Cities Skylines released an admittedly underwhelming current-gen upgrade that was free for anyone who owned the previous version. Saves didn’t carry over, but not having to pay for this upgrade lessened the sting quite a bit, at least for me. And that’s to say nothing of games like No Man’s Sky or Hitman 3, which simply gave current-gen players free updates without wiping saves or anything.

So for Studio Wildcard to pull the rug on the current fanbase — none of whom asked for this development — only to then also ask for money for the newer version is pretty suss, if you ask me.

At first, there was a $50 upgrade bundle that included the now-delayed, still-upcoming Ark 2. This is a somewhat nice gesture, I guess, but considering Studio Wildcard has yet to even release gameplay footage of Ark 2 or even detail what players will actually be able to expect from the sequel (other than the dulcet tones of a digitized Vin Diesel), it feels a little slimy. And this is possibly even suggesting there isn’t much faith that Ark 2 will be able to stand on its own once it finally does release.

However, this was quickly walked back once Studio Wildcard (who somehow I guess couldn’t predict this inevitable outcome), received a tidal wave of backlash, and now players would simply be able to purchase Ark: Survival Ascended for without the sequel included. And for a higher price.

Ark: Survival Evolved

To circle back to the headline that got you to click on this article in the first place, if Ark, a game originally intended as a multiplayer experience, will effectively be a single-player-only game (unless you run an unofficial server) after August for those who don’t want to buy into Survival Ascended, why is Studio Wildcard still selling Ark: Survival Evolved?

Even now as I type this, you can currently get Ark: Ultimate Survivor Edition on sale on the PSN store for $24.99, down from the original asking price of $49.99. And if you’re a PlayStation Plus subscriber, that goes down to $19.99. This version includes a bevy of DLC and add-on content, everything a new player needs to get up to speed and enjoy everything the game has to offer. But nowhere in the description on the store page does it state that the servers will be shutting off at the end of August, so if you are looking for a hassle-free online experience, you have been forewarned.

If PC is more your speed, you can also pick up Ark: Survival Evolved on Steam for $19.99. Again, there’s no mention in the game description that the servers will be shutting down. Now, I suppose you could dig through announcements on the Steam page and eventually find this information, but Studio Wildcard is certainly not going out of their way to put this information front and center. This feels incredibly underhanded. 

Ark: Survival Evolved

If, for a loose comparison, I bought a car that came with an OnStar-like service (is OnStar still even a thing?), but only then later learned that I would need to launch my own satellite for this service to work, I would feel pretty burned. Yes, this is a ridiculous example, but the sentiment, I think, is what’s important. If you buy a product that boasts about its features, only to find out those features are rapidly approaching their expiration date, it kind of feels like a misrepresentation of the value of the thing that’s being purchased.

Here’s a novel idea: Since this game will be greatly diminished in its future form, as far as the ease of connectivity, and since there is a newer version on the horizon, why in the world doesn’t Wildcard pull this version of Ark off the storefront and simply offer pre-orders for the newer version, which is the only version they will actively be supporting just a few months from now? I mean, can you imagine how it would feel if this original version simply continues to be offered for purchase, and someone buys it mere days before the servers get cut and the new version becomes available for purchase?

So why are Studio Wildcard, Sony, Microsoft, and PC storefronts still selling this version of Ark at all, without a warning that what you buy today might not be what you can effectively play later? Then again, after watching this entire fiasco unfold, I guess I’m not surprised that the consumer’s best interests are not factoring into the decisions of the developer, publisher, and digital game retailers.

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1 year ago

Snail Games should be boycotted for consumer fraud and illegal banning. Wildcard can shove ASA up Snail’s arse. Give PS4 players back the game and Dlc’s they paid for and fix the lemon they sold us. Ark was literally broke from beginning to end. But was still fun and enjoyable. As it sits, i will NEVER invest in either company again.

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