Ark: Survival Evolved will receive a modern farm animal — a sheep called the Ovis Aries — in its next big update across all platforms, developer Studio Wildcard announced late yesterday. That’s a significant change from what the team said previously, when it told fans that the species would only be made available if Ark won in its category at the Steam Awards, which is decided by public vote.
A post dated Dec. 26 on the game’s Steam community page quickly attracted scorn, as lead community manager and associate producer Jat Karunakaran explained the conditions by which players could unlock the Ovis Aries.
“Head over to [The Steam Awards page] on Thursday the 29th of December, as you’ll have the opportunity to come show your support for Ark by voting for us!” he wrote in the update, which has since been deleted. “If Ark wins the award, we will ensure that our fluffy friend quickly makes its debut on the Ark in the next major version update!”
Ark: Survival Evolved is nominated in the “best use of a farm animal” category, meant to award the game that “used a farm animal in the best way possible.” Players know that the game doesn’t involve much in the way of traditional farming, and instead focuses on taming wild dinosaurs for use in harvesting and collecting resources. Adding a sheep to the game would help to legitimize the nomination a bit, but Studio Wildcard wanted voters to first pledge their support in order to get the farm animal in-game.
That didn’t sit well with the Ark community, which saw this tactic as bribery.
“I don't think I need to explain why this is bad,” wrote EyrionOfTime on Reddit, in a thread bashing Studio Wildcard for the Steam Awards campaign. “Bribing is bribing, and if someone wanted to vote for another game title they feel deserve it more, they are robbed of a new dino for a Early Access game they paid for and opted in to play/test the game as it's created.”
“Even if wildcard doesn't mean to come across as bribing people and means to release the sheep win or lose, no PR team in their right mind would post what wildcard did simply because it SOUNDS like a bribe and bribing gamers = shitstorm,” added user Hookweave.
On Steam and Twitter, Ark players will a bit more blunt.
@survivetheark How about you just release it instead of bribing people for votes that would be better.— Pivarski97 (@masterfull2) December 28, 2016
@survivetheark so if we vote to say ark has the best use of a farm animal you will ad farm a animal. That sounds a little dodgy— ☠ The Dave Stream ☠ (@REAL_DaveStream) December 27, 2016
Studio Wildcard recognized the upset response quickly, removing the post and uploading a new one on Dec. 27, “reintroducing” the Ovis Aries to the Ark player base.
“We want to make it clear that regardless of whether Ark wins a Steam Award or not, Ovis will be making its debut in the next major Ark version update!” wrote Karunakaran in the new announcement.
There’s no release date for that update yet, but it appears that the game’s Reddit community is satisfied with the response. Karunakaran chimed in on the forum after the post went up to apologize to players directly.
“We clearly didn't go about this the greatest way and wanted to clear that up,” he said.
Although Ovis Aries is a welcome addition, there’s plenty of other concerns that are higher priority for Ark players. The Early Access game, which just launched on PlayStation 4 earlier this month, received paid downloadable content in September. Many players voiced their concerns about paying for more content when the game has yet to be released in full, 18 months after its June 2015 release.