On Thursday, Studio Wildcard released ARK: Survival Evolved‘s first paid DLC: the Scorched Earth expansion pack. As one might guess, the setting takes places in a parched desert where survivors must quickly get water, build shelter, and craft clothes that increases their resistance to the heat. Along with having a new world to explore, players will also have the ability to tame creatures never before seen, craft new items, like whips and boomerangs, and stumble into obstacles that they have never come across and learn how to deal with them.
At first, after watching the trailer, I was like, “Hey, this looks pretty cool.”
That is, up until I read some of the Steam reviews.
Despite its current “Very Positive” rating, the top-ranked reviews seem to give the DLC a mixed reception. Here’s one for example:
As wonderful as this addition might be, the timing is bad. Your customers have been eagerly waiting for optimization on the base game and promised additions for many months now. As an early access title, I believe effort should have been focused on completing that before adding paid additions.
I appreciate the creativity, but the shady business practice here gets a thumbs down from me. This creates a precedent for other early access titles to adopt.
Here’s another that, despite its brevity, makes a pretty powerful message:
Paid DLC for early access game is just stupid.
And even if you can look past the fact that these guys are releasing paid DLC when the game isn’t even finished, the expansion itself seems a bit rushed:
Game is great and the expansion sucks there are alot of bugs like not being able to see engram requirements and dinos wandering w/o wander mode and alot more.
What can I say about this.. Sadly I fell to the Hype, hell i Hyped it up cause the videos looked so sweet.. then the sadness fell.. as the whole ARK game started to fail.. have spent the whole day attempting to get into servers that havent even updated to the new DLC and have errors and issues.
(Thank goodness for Steam reviews.)
So let me try to explain what’s going on here. Studio Wildcard, the company behind ARK: Survival Evolved, was sued by Trendy Entertainment on December 2015, because, apparently, Trendy felt that ARK was in direct competition with their game Dungeon Defenders “both for players and for talent.” Now, if you ask me, I don’t know how on earth ARK is similar or could compete in any way, shape, or form to Dungeon Defenders. If anything, it seems to me these guys were pretty envious of how popular ARK was at the time and still is, and wanted to somehow prevent them from getting any more attention. (More on the weirdness of Trendy here.) In April of the following year Wildcard lost the case and apparently $40 million was drained from them. As a result, some time after the once free ARK: Survival of The Fittest can now only be downloaded after buying the base game. Evidently, the team still wasn’t satisfied by that. So here we have a $20 expansion pack while the game is still in early access, still saturated with bugs and incredibly poor optimization. Still no story mode either; still just a sandbox. It then becomes pretty clear that Studio Wildcard is still trying to recover from the funds they lost from the case with Trendy.
Or, maybe, just because they like money.
The sad reality is, there are probably over 500 customers who bought this expansion pack already. I was actually going to be one of them but I’m probably going to wait until a) the game or the DLC itself gets patched and b) it goes on sale. Maybe someone who has tried this add-on could fill me in on what the performance is like on Linux or if it’s even worth buying. Don’t get me wrong; I love this game. The fact there’s even a Linux version for a game as big as this is in of itself awesome. But as to what these reviewers brought out, as well as the awful performance that most everyone is experiencing, makes me come to the conclusion that, as with a lot of developers you’ll see, Wildcard’s priorities are backwards. Work on optimization and bug fixes first. Have the expansions come afterwards, especially if they’re paid ones.
Meantime, you can get the base game even cheaper than this add-on on Steam for $18 up until September 8 (hey, that’s when the Rumble update and Linux beta for Rocket League comes out! Y’all are gonna kick my butts, I’m sure).