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Ark devs cancel mass server wipe, add new servers instead

To wipe or not to wipe

Dino-themed survival sandbox, Ark: Survival Evolved [official site], is definitely not getting a PvP server wipe before release. That's pretty much what the Studio Wildcard devs said last year but behind-the-scenes they recently decided a mass wipe was in order and were on the verge of announcing the digital extinction event to the public. That's no longer happening.

Instead, players unhappy with the current state of existing official servers can choose to migrate over to a new server cluster after new code and infrastructure rolls out. In less technical language, you can swap the dino house you built on what turned out to be a haunted awful graveyard full of ghosts wielding duplicated C4 for a new build which hasn't had any reported ghost sightings yet.

The idea of a server wipe was officially smacked down last summer but has, I think, been coming up more frequently as the game's August 8 full release date approaches. I've noticed it on messageboards and, it turns out, it's been happening in the studio. A big reason for this is to try to combat cheating and hacking within the game. The specific problem which comes up a lot with Ark is  "duping" which is where players use various exploits (including crashing servers) to duplicate items.

I wonder how many players thought a wipe was really on the cards? I think most people would have assumed not, especially after reading co-founder, lead programmer and lead designer Jeremy Stieglitz's 2016 "final word on the matter" which I've been alluding to here. The final word was that "we will **not** be wiping the Official Servers on ARK's release (and as mentioned, we will do everything in our power to ever avoid wiping -- we all felt the sting from the launch duping bug all too well)."

The post added that this didn't mean all servers would be safe forever:

"We will keep existing active Official Servers as they are post-ship -- no wipe -- though at ship we may at our discretion re-purpose certain empty or near-empty Official Servers with 1 month prior warning (we'll provide archives to data of such servers if anyone wishes to re-host)."

I think some ambiguity on how final that final word was has crept back in since, but the post is still stickied near the top of the game's Steam announcements section so I think it would have been sensible to assume it still held true. Given that, and given Ark's general ones-step-forward-two-steps-back approach to community relations (paid Early Access DLC and switching to a brow-raising full release price tag when the game is still in Early Access in order to match pre-order pricing), I was drafting the news article and bracing myself for a new wave of anger in the comment section at the wipe - I mean, this would hardly be a one-month warning over empty or near-empty servers.

I suspect that sentiment was echoed across interviews, chats with community managers and in various conversations on messageboards so Studio Wildcard have done another 180 on the matter. That takes them through the full 360 and deposits them neatly back at their 2016 "final word" stance on the existing servers but with the addition of a new cluster network in play.

From my outsider perspective that feels like a sensible compromise because players won't lose their progress or stuff but, as Studio Wildcard work to stop players exploiting loopholes and hacks, people who want to shed the duping baggage will migrate over to the new servers in hopes of a better dino world.

Here's the full statement from Stieglitz:

"Earlier today we at Wildcard had made a decision to wipe the PvP servers in order to clean up the "duped" items which have been infesting ARK's servers as of late. However, after further conferring with the various designers and community managers at Wildcard, and reviewing more pro-and-con debates among ARK players, and talking to the press more in detail about it, we've decided to stick to the original plan and NOT wipe: to reiterate, there will be NO mass server wipe for ARK.

"Instead, we'll be launching an ADDITIONAL new PvP Server cluster network at ARK's retail release on August 8, while the legacy Early Access server cluster will stay online and intact. At that time we'll be rolling out the new server code and infrastructure necessary to prevent these hacking issues from ever occurring again. We are sorry for the abrupt turn-around on this decision and any confusion that it may have caused, and we're looking forward to a fun ARK launch with everyone in the weeks ahead!"

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