Recently, one of the most anticipated updates in Ark: Survival Evolved found it’s way to both the PC and Xbox ports of the game with Primitive Plus. While this was arguably one of the most hyped updates for the game, there really hasn’t been a strong echo for Primitive Plus since it released. This is mainly due to the hidden secret that Studio Wildcard held in their back pocket for so long, with Scorched Earth.
Scorched Earth was a shocker for better AND worse, and while I will claim to feel okay with it on a personal level, it’s hard not to recognize the many faults that this can cause.
For starters, Scorched Earth was a $20 add-on to the full game, that happens to still be in preview. The problem that many have with this on a moral base, is the fact that the developer has chosen charge the gamers themselves for this content, while they have yet to deliver the final product. Instead, many believe that the developer that missed its targeted release of Summer 2016, should not be prioritizing additional paid content before spending their time and resources to finalize the product. Rightfully so, the developer opened themselves up to scrutiny by doing this as it doesn’t leave much room for gamers to assume that Studio Wildcard does not exactly know how to get the game finished by committing to side projects.
Fans of the game should be upset for the fact that time and time again, horror stories of a gamer committing monetary value to an unfinished project just to feel the spite when the game never releases. However, most games, if not all, that have been released onto the Xbox game preview program has seen a good track record of release. Studio Wildcard has a fantastic track record of providing new content to the game as it progresses. Still this does not completely excuse the audacity of a developer to ask those gamers who have paid into the essential beta testing process, to spend more money to try more beta areas.
One issue that I did take up with was the lack of servers for the already anticipated Primitive Plus servers. Many tribes were already in the plans of having Primitive Plus be their new “goto” as a middleman server between prime and primitive. It also delivered a completely new system that survivors would get the chance to try out. If you were a fan of official servers, you may have felt spurned with a measly four servers on the day of launch, two PvP and two for PvE. The servers that should have been released at this time were all on the paid-content, Scorched Earth servers, essentially strong arming the gamers into purchasing the new content to play anything new on an official serve. Of course if you are a solo player or play on a hosted server, this didn’t affect you.
So why would Studio Wildcard want to deliver paid additional content. On a recent forum posting that detailed new dinos, the developers Community Manager, Jat, shared an explanation:
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.
Source: Official Ark Forums
From the beginning Studio Wildcard was very open about the initial vision of Ark’s that survivors would be able to transfer themselves into and out of; a multitude of different worlds with their own complexes. A few weeks ago, leading up to the announcement of Scorched Earth, they reiterated their plans of they felt would and could be the outlook of Ark going forward and through launch. Through the beta testing, the developer feels this format best suits what they are attempting to achieve. I imagine that most survivors would agree that testing this out now before the game launches would be key for the games success post-release.
Scorched Earth, for its matters, has its own alignment of engrams, additional to the standard prime engrams. Oddly, Primitive Plus does feature this assortment as well, in a much more complex matter. The additional DLC does provide an additional map with it’s own temperament and variety of beasts to slay and tame as well. Currently, players are able to transfer their characters from The Island, and The Center, to the Scorched Earth, as well as the ability to return. However, you are not able to take your belongings with you once you depart the older Arks [currently], although on the Twitch reveal it was stated that survivors would be able to take the new stuff to the old worlds. This did open up the idea and opportunity for “black market” funneling for trade amongst tribes.
Despite all of this, should have Studio Wildcard charged gamers to beta test this process?
I understand that the developer has a right to be paid for what they are creating for gamers. I will be the first to admit that I cannot suggest that they are an evil developer, nor can I suggest to you that you should not purchase Scorched Earth. I myself was one of the first in line, barely containing my excitement from the reveal, willing and eager to fork over the money. After playing around with Scorched Earth and seeing it first hand, I cannot argue that the content value is worth every penny. That being said, I cannot completely agree with the process being the most ideal way to test this out.
For the matters of adding content, Studio Wildcard has done a phenomenal job with providing to the community. They also have one of the best community responsiveness that I have seen from a developer. Ark: Survival Evolved, has transformed from one of the most intriguing games I watched on Twitch, to one of the most immersive games that I ever had the chance to play. Unlike most games that I’ve played, throughout my years of gaming, it is one of the few that actually led to gaming friendships with whom I find myself playing more often with than many that have been on my friendslist for years. I applaud them for the content that they create, I understand that they can be at fault as well with their ambitions. However, as the great Italian artist and architect Michelangelo once said: