We’ve all been beaten over the head with lots of news regarding predatory microtransactions practices, and there’s certainly plenty of evidence that would lead one to believe that the business model is just the price of playing games nowadays. Jesse Rapczak, co-founder of Studio Wildcard, sees things differently, particularly when it comes to ARK: Survival Evolved, which by his account seems to have accidentally found a secret to sustainable success without resorting to selling skins or lootboxes.
The account in question comes by way of an interview with GamesIndustry, which explains that the company’s plan to release annual large-scale expansions has worked out well: 16 million copies of ARK have been sold across PC and console, with reported mobile installs in the tens of millions and the distinction of being one of the most played titles on Xbox Game Pass.
All of this comes as something of a surprise to Rapczak, judging by his responses in the interview. “ARK is an online game with official servers and a lot of costs to keep the game running. It’s important to us to always be bringing in new players, and part of that is creating new content for the existing ones so they bring in their friends,” says Rapczak. “Doing one big premium update every year so far has provided the game with the yearly revenue model that it needs to continue development.”
Naturally, that ongoing cadence rolls forward with the upcoming Genesis expansion, with a reported two-year roadmap of content for the game still in the pipeline. In fact, the success of their current update cadence has seen Studio Wildcard shift priorities away from doing a sequel. That said, a sequel is apparently being drafted up.
“For ARK 2, we need to give players something new that they’re not getting from ARK. We’re not quite sure what that is yet, we’re not ready to talk about it, but we want to be unshackled from what ARK: Survival Evolved is and not have to worry about ruining players’ long history of dinosaurs and bases they’ve had for four years by making changes. That’s just a lot of baggage when you’re going to go make a sequel.”