Ark: Survival Evolved is a popular Steam Early Access title, but its overall "mostly positive" review average is currently under threat. Following yesterday’s reveal that the game would receive a $19.99 expansion pack, its first ever paid downloadable content, former devotees are turning against the open-world adventure game.
"[Ark] started off as [a] shining example of how to do early access," one highly recommended negative review reads. "Ended up a complete disaster after the developer went off on adventure of making [free-to-play spinoff Ark: Survival of the Fittest], console versions and paid expansion while still in early access! No wonder the game is so behind schedule."
That's just one example of the complaints lodged against Studio Wildcard, the team that’s been working on Ark: Survival Evolved for the past two years. The game launched in Early Access in June 2015 for $29.99, with the full release pushed back from this summer to later in 2016.
Since its Early Access debut, Ark: Survival Evolved has received free add-on content and a full spinoff; its developers also became entangled in a reportedly multimillion-dollar lawsuit. Yet players of the dinosaur-hunting survival game say they’re tired of diversions: They just want to get into the full game already.
"Early Access games should not be allowed to have paid DLC," wrote another reviewer.
"Developers were doing so well, but they decided to spend their limited time and resources developing paid DLC instead of optimizing, finishing up and releasing the core game," said another.
The new Scorched Earth expansion adds an powerful dragon to the mix, a departure from the dinosaurs that roam the main game’s world. Some players say this could create a power imbalance between those who stick with the core game and those who pick up the paid add-on.
We spoke to members of Studio Wildcard earlier this week about Scorched Earth, and the studio acknowledged the possible reaction to the price.
"Some people might see that this is an Early Access title and we're selling an expansion pack and they might have an ideological issue with that," co-founder Jesse Rapczak told Polygon. "I don't think we're ever going to please those people."
Scorched Earth is on sale now, and Ark: Survival Evolved is still moving toward a full release sometime this year.