Ark: Survival Evolved price doubles on Steam

Ark: Survival Evolved

Studio Wildcard have doubled the price of their dino-infested survival game Ark: Survival Evolved [official site] on Steam. The developers say that the price hike is “to ensure retail parity for the upcoming launch” which is on 8 August.

The game was being sold at a lower price through the early access period ($29.99/£22.99/€27.99 with some sales taking it far lower) and the early access blurb acknowledges that the price would increase when the game reached its release form:

“the game will be lower priced through Early Access, relative to its final full-version retail price.”

Thing is, the game is still actually in early access at this point despite now sporting what would seem to be a full release version price tag of $59.99/£54.99/€69.99. I assume that’s because the pre-ordering for the game is now live so they’re trying to funnel people towards that instead of everyone just saying “no thanks, I’ll pick it up cheaper on Steam”.

So. A few thoughts:

1. We should take a moment to appreciate just how eye-watering that euro number is and that it has actually more than doubled the cost of the game in that currency.

2. $59.99/£54.99/€69.99 is a lot of money and I flat out won’t pay that much for any game (unless it tricks me over a long period of time with microtransactions and an underwater-themed map).

Ark: Survival Evolved

3. I did actually try Ark at a few points during the last couple of years and the performance was wretched. I was hoping to get some nice screenshots of dinosaurs and habitats but the tradeoffs I needed to make so it would run with anything approaching playability make the game so fugly. This point is more of a question to you readers because I’ve seen comments that still point to the game’s optimisation as being terrible right now and some people saying the game has improved on that front. Has it? Does it still chug like a kid at Nando’s trying to make the most of the bottomless drink deal?

4a. I’m curious as to the thought process here from Studio Wildcard. Sure, there’s a warning that the price will increase on the Early Access blurb but that’s not the same as a specific warning that this will happen on a specific date and before early access actually ends. I feel like if I’d been pondering a purchase I’d have felt safe in assuming the early access price wouldn’t double before the 1.0 release. I just checked the most recent info post on the forum about upcoming bits and pieces and there’s nothing about a price change there either.

4b. Studio Wildcard seem to have a really strangely discordant relationship with the idea of early access as it exists right now. In September 2016 the game got its first bit of paid DLC (the somewhat aptly named Scorched Earth expansion) at $19.99 which rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

The prevailing impression of early access (which is supported by Steam’s own Early Access guidelines) is that it’s a phase where devs are actively working on a game and it’ll be in a bit of a janky state so you pay less money to buy it and often you get to shape the final project a bit by submitting feedback and being part of that initial community. On the dev side you get a source of cash you wouldn’t otherwise get and some help with bug reports and testing bits and pieces.

Different games remix or approach that basic concept in different ways but I’d say the above is the generally accepted idea of an Early Access project.

Studio Wildcard seemed to be particularly bad at communicating divergences from the common understanding of early access and came off as money-grubbing with the DLC. Given the release date had slipped a bit already, there were spin-off projects and other resource-sappers, AND some other survival games seem keen to stay in early access forever, I think it was perfectly reasonable that a player might see a paid expansion for an early access game and worry the devs were trying to wring as much cash from the project as possible without even needing to finish it.

The blog post after the fact suggested some reasonable dev-side thinking on why trying an expansion earlier was better than later, but pricing it at two-thirds of the cost of the game at the time felt grim. Essentially, $19.99 doesn’t feel like it adheres to the understanding of early access and offering players a good deal in exchange for their help in testing and shaping these things.

The devs have also made some positive moves in terms of money and content as I remember being pleased to hear about their decision to pay modders to work on their own additions and weird fun projects for the game. But to me this new price hike might undo a lot of that good will. Studio Wildcard’s approach to pricing (and messaging that pricing to players) seems opaque and tone-deaf at best.

Ark: Survival Evolved

5. The pricing seems kind of a mess anyway. Like, I’m looking at Game because that’s one of the links via the official site and you could pre-order the final PC release in physical form for £39.99 or buy the early access version for £54.99 on Steam. I’m not surprised that the physical copy is less than the digital but given the latter gives you access immediately it’s hard to shake the feeling that you’re playing £15 for access to 32 days of extra development time. I wonder if there’s a German word for that specific early access-related emotion?

The Explorer’s Edition is maybe a bit more palatable I think. I say “I think” because it’s £69.99 but that includes a season pass for 3 expansions including Scorched Earth. In theory that would mean you’re maybe paying £69.99 instead of £99.96 IF AND ONLY IF the other expansions are priced the same as the Scorched Earth one and you bought them separately. But you can actually pick up Ark plus Scorched Earth on Steam as a bundle for £59.48 so it’s entirely possible that another bundle on Steam later down the line will actually be the better deal? I mean, I couldn’t see anything about how much a season pass would cost by itself and to see the value you have to predict future prices based on current ones rather than any actual pricing info that I can find.

I’ll bold this one because it might help someone who missed their affordability window:

You can also buy a physical card with a Steam code for the game for £22.99 still because I’m guessing there’s still stock of those early access cards with the price printed on the corner at the moment.

Oh, and you can also buy a collector’s edition for a whopping £149.99 but only for console.

God, this is nonsense.

69 Comments

  1. ahac says:

    €69.99 ??!

    The only game I remember at that price was Quantum Break on the Windows Store and almost no one bought that…

    • Flopper says:

      Inb4 they jack the price, announce full release, stop releasing updates, start working on next project.

      I’ve had the game since the first month it was on Early Access. It’s not a great game. Too ambitious. It’s cool that you can build so much crap. But once people build a massive base you won’t be getting over 30fps on any system.

      I have a i7 6700k, EVGA GTX 1080 FTW, 16GB of ram. If I go in a fully decked out base it’s a slide show unless I drop everything to low.

      Not to mention the game isn’t really that fun. The gunplay feels wonky and not fun. The arrows and projectile weapons feel the same. Melee is glitchy and people can just lag around and whack you in the head until you’re unconscious.

      All around it’s a steaming turd. Not worth $30. A laughing stock to try to charge $60.

    • UncleLou says:

      Yeah, Forza Horizon 3 as well, Gears of War 4 I think, etc. Basically every Microsoft W10 game. I’d like to see a gaming site ask Microsoft a few questions regarding this price policy.

    • Premium User Badge

      Syt says:

      It’s a price point usually reserved for niche products, like a few of the more intricate wargames.

    • cajuncustom says:

      Wait a week the price will drop . people have to be crazy to pay that much for a broken game that should barely be beta right now should have never been released to stores. after running a server and being a admin on 12 servers its nowhere even close to store quality

  2. Atog says:

    “$59.99/£54.99/€69.99 is a lot of money and I flat out won’t pay that much for any game (unless it tricks me over a long period of time with microtransactions and an underwater-themed map).”

    Right there with you. Goddamn terrains.

    At 70 euros I can only assume that it’ll allow them to trick people with huge percentages sales.

    • Archonsod says:

      There are games I’d pay that kind of money for, but Ark isn’t one of them. Hard to see who would to be honest – I haven’t played it for a few months, but unless it’s changed radically it’s still a fairly generic open world survival game with little to recommend it over the other million and one open world survival games out there, most of which can be had for less than twenty quid. I mean you could get Subnautica for fifteen quid, and the underwater setting at least changes up the usual ‘punch the tree’ grind somewhat.

    • Zunalter says:

      If you are the type of person who looks at a percentage off stat instead of the end cost to determine if it is worth buying, you are the type of person who will spend 70 euro on a fairly boring survival game.

    • orbit_l says:

      The most recent Steam sale saw Civ VI on a 40% discount. However, since I live in Canada, that meant that I was still looking at a $48 game, down from $80. XCOM 2 had a similar price at release. It’s great that they try to achieve price parity between countries, but it’s not like my income is adjusted for exchange rates :/

  3. Sojiro84 says:

    I bought the game a few months after early access release. I payed maybe 20 or so bucks. Don’t know how anymore. Maybe through Steam or another reseller.

    Anyway, played the game once every few months and the performance is better then it was back when it launched, it is still terrible.

    My 1080 can’t even reach a stable 60 fps at 1080P on high settings with all extra effects turned on.

    The UI of the game is also horrendous and online feels a bit laggy as well at times.

    This game does not deserve to be payed full price. 30 bucks or less is fair, but more then 30 is stealing.

    IMHO.

    • spacedyemeerkat says:

      I was just going to ask if the game still runs like a slug in treacle on a 1080.

      • Sakkura says:

        It sounds like it has been optimized to run like a tortoise in syrup now.

      • thranx says:

        The patches in just the last month have seen impressive performance improvements. It’s a visually excellent game. Being early access, I wouldn’t expect such refinements until the end anyway. They’re prepping for launch and the optimizations are being made.

        If nothing else, Ark should be held up as an example of how to EA can be done well.

      • Imperialist says:

        I too have a 1080, one of the better ones. It usually sits around 45-50 FPS maxed out. The game is pretty, but some things fall atrociously short. The third person animations, for instance, are so…so wretched.

  4. Eraysor says:

    £55 is absolutely insane. What a crazy price. I struggle to justify any PC game over £35, let alone £55!

    • Sakkura says:

      The € price is even worse. £61 plus change.

      In theory I respect the concept of being cheaper in early access than at retail launch, but damn…

  5. Wulfram says:

    I approve of the principal that early access games should cost less than the release price. But that’s a lot of money to ask.

    • animal says:

      I’m with you. I’m working on my own little thing, and if possible every time I add something significant in early release I’ll bump up the price, until such time as it gets to full price at final release time.

      I think Ark is a great game, there’s a reason it has so many players, although this price is a bit much. If I were them I’d have gone for $30-35 or therearounds.

  6. jellydonut says:

    70 euros for a hobbyist project?

    Hard pass.

  7. vorador says:

    Yep, same devs that sold a 20€ DLC when the game was still on early access.

  8. Janichsan says:

    70 € is already a ridiculous price for a so-called triple-A game with hours of voice acting, mo-capped animations and a development team counting in the hundreds.

    For a game like ARK, it’s simply delusional.

  9. Glentoran says:

    How can you possibly release DLC for a game that is still in early access? That shouldn’t be allowed.

    Either way, i don’t see myself ever paying £55 for a game. I’ve paid £40 before (numerous times, harking back to the Amiga era), but never again.

    Simply put, £55 is a ludicrous price and there is no way i could justify paying that.

    • elevown says:

      You know 40 quid back then is like 80 in today’s money?

      I think a big new release – of a game you know is great and will love, can easily be worth £40-50.

      Ark isn’t – but I think nearly everyone who wants it has already bought it for a lot less than that.

      • ColonelFlanders says:

        Actually it’s more like £100. Anyway there is a big difference that you’re ignoring, which is the fact that the poverty line is rising rapidly. So while 40 quid is worth a lot less than it used to be, no one can fuckin afford anything because we’re all skint, unlike the baby boomers who all had houses that were increasing exponentially in value and completely untouched business sectors to make fat wads on.

  10. Gothnak says:

    The problem that many companies have is that at release, shops often put clauses into deals with selling physical product, that publishers are not allowed to sell the game cheaper online or via download. This is to protect store sales.

    If you say ‘well, screw you’ and leave the download price lower, they won’t stock your game, and often threaten to not stock your NEXT game either. I have seen this first hand.

    The sooner we lose the high street stores, the better for all of us.

  11. Dewal says:

    Are you sure about the prices ?
    £54.99 is $71 (which is very close to 69.99) and 62.75€ (which is very close to 59.99).

    So it seems that the costs have been inverted between euros and dollars.

    • Sakkura says:

      The prices quoted in the article are correct. The price difference between Europe and the US are caused (in large part) by VAT. I guess the UK does also have a VAT rate slightly lower than many other EU countries… still, £55 vs €70 seems punitive. Maybe they haven’t quite factored in the pound’s drop.

  12. Bishop149 says:

    Can’t help but feel this might be because almost everyone who was going to buy ARK probably already has and they’re desperately trying to squeeze some money out of the few that might be left.

    • Cvnk says:

      I agree that most people who want this game have probably already picked it up but outrageous pricing is not the way to lure in the remaining stragglers.

      • orbit_l says:

        Indeed. The best way to do that would have been to announce the price increase a week in advance. Anyone still on the fence would have probably taken the bait and bought it before it gets more expensive.

  13. Junkenstein says:

    That Humble Monthly with this in turned out to be quite a good deal then.

    I might even play it one day……

  14. lancelot says:

    I wonder if there’s a German word for that specific early access-related emotion?

    Of course there is:

    “Weltschmerz: sadness or melancholy at the evils of the world; world-weariness.”

  15. Premium User Badge

    Iamblichos says:

    I can’t even conceive of what the devs are thinking on this one… Ark is one of the few games I’ve actually returned to Steam for a refund. I tried it about 8 months ago to see what all the fuss was about, and it ran incredibly slowly, had a bad stutter, and the graphics were janky. None for me, thanks, even at $20. **$60**?? Erm…

  16. wombat191 says:

    hahaha they are a bit late or early for april 1st

  17. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Man, I am feeling bad about having gifted the Humble Monthly Bundle code now (not really, generosity is good).

  18. goettel says:

    It’s just OCD types keeping this in the charts, right?

  19. Rince says:

    Woah, pretty crazy. I tried this game in a free weekend and for me wasn’t worth the price then. Much less now.

  20. Zunalter says:

    Got this game as the headliner to a Humble Monthly Bundle… it was okay when I played it, not nearly as engaging as Rust, which was extra sad because Rust is just people whereas this had dinos as well. Probably pop back in once release hits to see whats going on.

  21. thranx says:

    Worth every dime. Great games are worth paying for. I don’t understand the hate. $60 is standard for top tier games… this is one of them and it’s fantastic.

    • Painhertz says:

      What he said. If you play Ark for anything less than 200ish hours you really aren’t understanding what it is about but if you get past the noob stage you realize that it’s worth every penny. I personally have bought 3 accounts (Two with Scorched Earth) and have over 2000 hours in the game across 3 characters. Glad I got my accounts while they were cheap though. :P

      • Premium User Badge

        teije says:

        A game where you “need” more than 200 hours to not be a noob is poorly designed indeed.

      • malkav11 says:

        If you enjoy it, more power to you, but I submit that a game that doesn’t get good (or reveal its true appeal, or whatever) until you’ve sunk 200 hours into it is a game that has INCREDIBLY unrealistic expectations. That is enough time to play several other entire games, or at least one full playthrough of The Witcher 3 or Baldur’s Gate II. And I barely have that kind of time to commit to games I like an hour in, much less to persist in the hope that it might get fun in hour 201.

        Moreover, I feel like 200 hours is more than enough time for Stockholm Syndrome or the sunk cost fallacy to set in.

    • fish99 says:

      I’ve played a bunch of the game. It’s not worth that much, not even close. Also £55 is >$71. It’s a solid $30 game.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      192 hours myself. Both SP and MP. Spent the majority of that time grinding and hating myself for playing in the manner of a drug addict. And that was with the multipliers (for tame time and resource gathering) set as high as possible and the thirst mechanic disabled. It is beautiful. And addictive. But just not fun.

      When you first start playing you might assume that the game will get less grindy as you level. You would be wrong. It is more like an MMO – a clip of ammo can take you an hour to get the resources together. Just insane, especially in SP.

  22. mustang05tim says:

    I played it on a free weekend, and I don’t see anything that really makes this game stand out from the other top tier survival crafting games, much less pay AAA pricing on. I think at $20 it might be worth a purchase, but at $60, no way!

  23. Thirdrail says:

    So they went from charging $30 for a $20 game to charging $60 for a $20 game. Classy.

  24. NandoCanedo says:

    Price Evolved

  25. Generico says:

    If Studio Wildcard was any worse at marketing, Ark would be an infinite universe of procedurally generated planets for you to explore for no reason instead of a mediocre survival game. I played it quite a bit, and to be honest the only thing that ever made it even remotely entertaining was the mods, and it is in no way worth $60. The devs never seemed to have any real direction for the gameplay. They seemed to just randomly add whatever they thought was “cool” and so there’s all this so-called content that overlaps in purpose or is rendered useless by other content. It’s just a really poorly designed game, and they seem to think it’s AAA because it’s built with UnrealEngine. Which is kind of a testiment to their incompetence in itself because UE is a highly optimized platform and SWC still managed to make a game that performs like a fat dog on a hot day.

  26. TamyKnockers says:

    Get Conan Exiles its ARK-Dinos

  27. Berserkerbaby says:

    I’ve played about 2000 hours of ARK now and I love (except for the performance, which is still crap) every single aspect of the game.
    However this game is not even close worth 70€. Not the game itself, not the game plus 2 or 3 DLCs. It’s just way too far from being somewhat close to that prize in it’s current state.
    I honestly hope Wildcard changes their mind about the prize and leaving EA next month.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      Really? You love the thirst mechanic which has you scuttling for water ever couple of minutes? You love the fact that you are forever shuttling between water sources and the cooking pot to make recipes rather than being able to automate it somehow? You love spending time repeatedly gathering dino poo, putting in the composter and then spreading it on your land just to grow those rare crops? You love spending hours (literally) sitting by a dino feeding it narcs so that you can tame it? And all that is beginners stuff compared with breeding….

      • Berserkerbaby says:

        I never said on what settings I play the game. Ofc I agree that the default settings on official servers are outrageous and anyone who plays there must be a bit masochistic, but you can always play with high rates on unofficial servers. The game is incredibly customizable with mods etc. No need to wait 14 fucin hours for a dino to be tamed.
        In my opinion the game is fun because you can play it however you want, somewhat similar to Skyrim.

  28. Tobalaz says:

    I’ve got over 1k hours in ARK, love the game, but I’m not going to kid myself or anyone else it’s still a mess.
    Yes, it’s head and shoulders above it’s state at launch but it was the mother of all clusterf*cks at launch. There’s still a lot of improvements to make.
    Is the game worth a full $60 US?
    With a little more improvement and all dlc included I’d say yes.
    In it’s current state and the dlc being sold separately on PC still where consoles include Scorched Earth? Oh heck no.
    Let me be frank, the only reason I’ve enjoyed the game this much is the modding community, and Wildcard is like 3-4 versions behind on the dev kits so mods aren’t as stable as they should be right now and it’s been hard to play.

  29. malkav11 says:

    I doubt I’d be into this game anyway, but this price hike has absolutely guaranteed I won’t buy it, so, congrats?

  30. Premium User Badge

    MajorLag says:

    On the one hand, being unwilling to pay $70+ for any game is why we can’t have nice things Pip, like games that don’t micro-transaction your wallet to death. On the other hand, this game in particular doesn’t even seem worth the price it asked for at launch and is unlikely to feel worthy of a price tag that high ever.

    I mean, you can get Nex Machina, which is brand new and complete, for $20. Yeah, Nex isn’t a Minecraft-too-em-up, but it gets great reviews, looks really pretty, and is just high quality by any measure, which is not something you can say about Ark.

  31. ArkIsLife says:

    I hope you guys are kidding me i played about 2000 hours of ark and i can totally understand the 70$ , ark has so much Thing to ofer and is worth way more than 70$ . If you look at other games that are full priced games (70$) ark has way more to offer and all the People that are complaining about it without having played it shouldnt try to be a part of this discusion

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorLag says:

      It has way more to offer, so much more, it’s the best at having more to offer, nothing has more to offer than it does.

      Seriously though, if you really think that you should elaborate on precisely what it offers that you feel is worth that kind of dosh.

  32. BloddyK says:

    I see all these people complaining… I bought the game same month it was realesed, ranked up to 1200 hours which is quite low to be honest. The game is so rich in content I havent done even 50% of it over my course of 1200 hours. its worth every penny. Dont let some guy with 100 hours tell you its a bad game. Optimizations ? – They WILL come

    • cajuncustom says:

      Have 3500 + hours in it , ran a server and admin for 12 servers , it is no where near worth anything close to what they are asking , its buggy as crap alot of broken areas , Ragnarok is a crash fest on 4 different servers we have if anything this game is Alpha breaking into Beta untill the issues are fixed it isnt worth the money they are trying to get now

    • malkav11 says:

      If someone thinks it’s a bad game and still plays over a hundred hours of it I fear for their sanity.

  33. Naomi Swift says:

    I have 3810 hours playing the game and I have my own server simply because I can’t stand trolls or the fact if your not in the Alpha Tribe, you have no chance what-so-ever of accomplishing anything. Is it worth $60, I’m conflicted on the answer because its an awesome game and highly addicting, but I have a hard time paying that much for any game. Wait for it to go on sale and grab it then! As far as the lag, the official servers are always laggy becasue everything is always maxed and not modderated. The unoffical servers always have the tendecy to run much smoother and are alot more fun because of it.

  34. eLBlaise says:

    “I flat out won’t pay that much for any game” I didn’t say it but I feel it with all my bodily fibers.

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