The developers of Ark: Survival Evolved have defended their decision to release paid downloadable content (DLC) while still in Steam's Early Access status, claiming it needed an early release to 'ensure minimal integration issues.'
Made available last year under Steam's Early Access programme, where players can pick up a pre-release copy of a game for a typically discounted sum with the promise of receiving the finished game upon launch, Wildcard's Ark: Survival Evolved was largely well-received
bar typical Early Access bugs and limitations. Since then, the company has been hard at work improving the dinosaur-laden survive-'em-up but has hit a roadblock in the form of consumer backlash over its decision to release a paid expansion pack before finishing the core game.
Priced at £22.99 but with a limited-time promotion dropping the game to £13.79 until the end of the week, buyers backing the title were originally promised a full release by June 2016. With that date whizzing by, players have been eager to see progress - and are displeased by the appearance of a £14.99 Scorched Earth expansion pack. The game's Steam page has been flooded with negative reviews accusing the company of a cash-grab and of spending time and resources on the paid-for DLC that could otherwise have been spent finishing the now-late main game.
'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,
' the company's explanation
for the paid DLC launch reads. '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 Ark 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.
Wildcard's explanation falls short, however, of explaining why the company's need to test out the Ark Expansion system while in Early Access also required said Ark Expansion to cost additional money, rather than being released free of charge to previously patient backers and testers. The company has also not announced a revised release date for the finished main game, stating only that it is in 'the home-stretch of preparing the game for 1.0 release
' and failing to update the Steam description which still lists June 2016 as the target release date.