ARK: Survival Evolved is *NOT* Optimized for Steam Machines

I already have a review of the game and a more recent one that I put up on Steam. This time, I’d like to take a few minutes to vent in regards to the so-called “optimization” of this game, where the developers had the clit to label this game as “Optimized for Steam Machines”. It’s been a few weeks since the advertisement was put on it, and it’s still there.


If any of you have tried ARK on Linux, you know how awful the performance is, as bad as it is on Windows. You can read most of my Steam review below. Someone was somehow able to find my review out of the almost 50k there are already and labeled it as ‘funny.’ If you get a chuckle out of it, great, but at the same time, it’s a warning for those who have a Steam Machine and might be contemplating whether they should buy this…sandbox or not. Also, if you’re a hardcore ARK fan, you might want to roll your eyes over, as I will admit I was a bit…critical.

I applied to be an alpha tester for this game. I still harbor resentment to those who were accepted and got the game for nothing, simply because they might have had a slightly more overclocked graphics card than myself, or the fact that I didn’t get to test the early Linux builds. But now I think I know the reason.


One word: performance. Put simply, you need a really (and I emphasize – really) beefy, jacked up son of a biscuit on steroids if you ever hope to achieve on par performance. Yeah, you heard me right: on par. I’m talking about an overclocked i7, an overclocked GTX 980, >= 16 GB of 2,400 MHz RAM, and even a Samsung EVO SSD, as loading times are painstakingly difficult to wait through.


What further adds to my aggravation is the advertisement: “Optimized for Steam Machines.”[] I seriously don’t know what kind of substances these folks were on when they advertised this. Maybe just to get more sales?


It’s probably the worst description ever. I’ve had this game since day one. Performance is, frigging, so bad, words cannot express myself. Lots of updates saying something like, “15% CPU performance increase.” Any framerate changes? No. Here we are, exactly six months later, with the same terrible performance. I’m using a GTX 750 Ti and get an average of 20 FPS on medium settings. On Windows. Can you guess what my framerate is on Linux? -_-


I emailed the developers, asking them to take the advert off. It’s been a few days. No response. So just be aware, you Steam Machine/Linux users. Unless you’ve got a GTX 980 packed in there (maybe you don’t even know what that means), my hat to you if you can get this game running at or above 30 FPS on high graphics settings. So much for “Optimized for Steam Machines.” Optimized for…shift, maybe?


Another thing, if “Optimized for Steam Machines” includes optimized controller support, that is false. The GUI is still designed for keyboard and mouse users in mind, meaning you have to drag items into your inventory with a cursor that you control with your thumbstick, and in-game prompts displaying keyboard inputs (ex. E: Access Inventory) That doesn’t really fit into the category of being totally optimized for controllers. And I know some of you are saying, “why not get a Steam controller?” Not everyone wants to buy one? And you still have to drag that mouse cursor around to put that shotgun on the second item in your inventory. What are they going to do when the XB1/PS4 ports arrive?


If the advertisement is taken off, I might convert my thumbs-down to a thumbs-up, as this game packs plenty of good content otherwise. But in the meantime, don’t try to tell me this game is “optimized” when clearly it is not.


But that’s not enough. Customers who actually do have a Steam Machine have reported other problems:

  • The game initially booted up fine, but I (mistakenly) changed the Windowed setting to Fullscreen in the graphics options, and now the picture is way of center on my display, making the game unplayable.
  • My big issue with ARK on the Steam Machine is it always takes two launches. I launch it once and choose a server (or standalone) and it goes through it’s long loading routing, then crashes back to the steam client. load it again and it works.

Please, please tell me that you agree. I want that advertisement to be gone.

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[…] the MMORPG genre (and the Linux client performance has apparently improved quite nicely since our first impressions came out). We should not forget Runescape‘s recent Linux support. There’s even the old Ryzom […]


ArchLinux user running i7 with a Ti750. Ark seems to be working pretty well for me. I haven’t tested FPS, but at 1080p with High settings, the game is playable.. (probably around 25-30fps).


It’s a disingenuous sales gimmick. Is this marketing really the brainchild of the game developers, or is this more so Valve’s idea? Although Ark: Survival Evolved has gotten the most attention for this, it isn’t the only game to have received the “Optimized for Steam Machines” label. I noticed this regarding the ad for the “Exploration Sale”, although I don’t remember the exact titles mentioned. I’m going to check the upcoming December Holiday Sale ad to see how many titles are labeled (the abbreviated listing on the hardware landing only shows Alien: Isolation, Ark: Survival Evolved, and Axiom Verge as… Read more »


UPDATE: As a follow-up, I took a look at the Steam Winter Sale (which ends 2016-January-4). Alien: Isolation is the only game on the sale landing I see pictured with an “Optimized for Steam Machines” tag. ARK: Survival Evolved no longer has an “Optimized for Steam Machines” tag. Axiom Verge also no longer has an “Optimized for Steam Machines” tag. Steam Machines aren’t even pictured as part of Valve’s “Purchase Steam Hardware Now and Receive a Free Copy of Left 4 Dead 2 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” banner. There are no Steam Machine sales either. Too bad; Steam’s Winter Sale… Read more »


Thank goodness.

But it’s still under the hardware section:



Completely agree. I have an older CPU (Quad core AMD, still not bad though), but a GTX960, 8GB of RAM (albeit older RAM), a Samsung SSD and the nVidia proprietary drivers in Fedora 23, and I couldn’t get more than 20 FPS on average settings. It was playable at the highest settings (around the same 20 FPS), but got some slowdown every so often when turning quickly. In the end, I requested and was granted a refund since I didn’t really enjoy the game anyway. Still, the “optimized for Steam OS” thing doesn’t seem to be quite truthful.


That game won’t even run on most Steam Machines since it requires more than 8GB of RAM.


That’s even more disappointing since the Steam Machines were supposed to set some kind of standard in terms of target hardware for Linux. :/


I agree with you fully. I think that the whole ‘optimized for Steam Machines’ thing was just a marketing stunt meaning two things: game having a SteamOS port and game supporting Steam Controller (which is ridiculous for obvious reasons).


Oh I agree with you alright. I am amazed you got controller support working at all? I tried my xbox360 wireless gamepads and it refused to work. Then I tried my Steam Controller. Official and community mappings do not work (anything made on Windows?). The Steam mapping UI even breaks with those profiles. So I made my own, which works. But even with a custom profile I had issues. Things like left/right steering of mounts is unresponsive. Mixing keyboard+mouse emulation with native gamepad resulted in 2x mouse cursors. This means the in-game gamepad support is reliant on its own mouse… Read more »


> I am amazed you got controller support working at all? I tried my xbox360 wireless gamepads and it refused to work. Be more specific. Do you mean the SDL_GameController powered one? That option does not exist anymore, at least not on SteamOS. ARK would also have to use said API for it to work. I think they removed/hid it because they have a database of all known controllers now and Steam does the mapping automatically. > It’s because anything below the 4.3 kernel does not have native support for the Steam controller.’ No It’s not. I forgot to tell;… Read more »


I see it now! It may have been the feature was temporarily unavailable during November’s UI changes (on Beta). Or it was simply me not used to the changes. My x360 controller is already detected and I can remap it. However, I don’t think this is the issue. The mappings affect all games using the API and all other games that use it work perfectly with my controller. If it was a simple remap issue, would likely get some input, only on wrong buttons/axis. Thanks for reminding me about your guide! I loved that article. It will probably be very… Read more »