Studio Wildcard’s co-founder talks about how ARK: Survival Evolved stays sustainable without microtransactions

    
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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.”

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partiesplayin

The reason for arks huge success especially in the early days yr 1-2 is because the game got continually updated with new content and “gameplay mechanics “which most games today fail to do especially in the gameplay features side of this. This kept the player base active and engaged throughout arks early access on steam. And this is why the game was successfully beyond the base idea for the game. So many mmo devs could learn a thing or 2 from this.. it’s the new gameplay “features” and content that keep your player base engaged not rinse and repeat your content in a slightly different way.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Never again you sorry bastards. Have fun milking your albatross.

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2Ton Gamer

I do not have faith in their direction for the expansions or Ark 2 because as it stands now, they simply do not understand metrics and using the data they have to figure out what the players want. The main questions they need to ask themselves are basic questions a good company will ask itself and it’s consumers. Who is still playing after all of this time and what are they doing in-game? Focus on those simple questions and they will be successful instead of shoving multiple ideas that they think people want such as desolate maps with grindy mechanics, aliens impregnating survivors or gimmicky animals to tame.

Also, they could stand to do more of what Conan Exiles does (a game I really have not played beyond 20 hours or so) and do some cosmetic cheap expansion packs with things like different building designs or armors/weapons to craft. Also, look at the popular maps and it becomes apparent that the official expansion maps do not hold a candle to The Center, Ragnarok or Valguero, all of which were maps created by players before being turned official.

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Joey

Love this game! I’ve spent more hours on this game than almost any other game over the last several years. The private role play servers are particularly fun!

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EmberStar

Hopefully they actually finish Genesis parts 1 and 2 before secretly snatching away most of the staff to go work on Ark 2. Kind of exactly what they *didn’t* do with Atlas, seeing as it felt like they dropped the planned TLC updates to old and irrelevant critters midstream, and then quietly took about six months longer than expected to release Extinction. Because most of the staff were secretly working on Atlas from about the point they ditched the TLC updates. (No, I’m not bitter about that. *not at all.* :< )