ARK: Born To Be Pay2Win?

Karikatur: ASA Born To Be Pay2Win?

Wildcard is currently in the spotlight with their announcements about ARK Survival Ascended, raising some questions regarding Pay to Win.

The Frontier Adventure Pack offers for the first time paid skins for the upcoming remake of the Scorched Earth map. The first information was released during the Extralife Stream. In the Community Crunch 392, it was announced that in addition to skins, new structures such as a railroad will be added. Interestingly, Snail Games, the owner of ARK, has already used elements of the game for other projects, like Dark and Light or PixARK. Now it seems that they have borrowed elements for the railroad from "Outlaw Of The Old West" ;-). Moreover, a new, paid dino named Oasisaur was announced (which will be included in the aforementioned pack) and is also supposed to resurrect its dead animals - quite a silly idea for a survival game...

In the last Crunch from the end of January 2024, a new cosmetic system was introduced, which allows players to create their own skins and use them on official servers if they are approved (details can be found here: Community Crunch 394). It is noteworthy that Wildcard has only developed this new feature but has not delivered any new content yet! There is no mention of microtransactions (MTX) or similar ideas, even though these skins exactly make such in-game purchases conceivable. Understandably so, since when the CEO of Wildcard talked about NFTs in 2022, there was a massive outcry from the community.

Jeremy Stieglitz himself stated in 2015 that there would never be in-game monetization of this game:

There will never be monetization of this game, aside from possible completely new expansion ARKs (entirely new worlds as expansion packs).

There will never be paid items, not even cosmetics - there will be tons of cosmetic "item skins", but they will all be earnable in-game rewards and time-limited, free events to promote the game, nothing you would ever have to spend $$$ on.

The term "Loot Crate" was simply used to denote a high-quality item treasure chest ;)

To clarify, we at Studio Wildcard are very against any in-game monetization. We've seen how it has distorted too many otherwise good games.

This statement reflects the confidence and determination of Wildcard at the time to make ARK Survival Evolved a fair game accessible to all players. 9 months later, in December 2015, however, Wildcard and ARK were sold to the Chinese company Snail Games, and Wildcard is essentially just the developer of ARK now!

The necessity for companies to generate revenue to pay wages and make profits is an inevitable aspect of business life.

It is now important that we always express ourselves respectfully and appropriately towards the snails ahem owners of Wildcard & ARK. Offensive statements, such as the desire to feed our friends from Suzhou to our Rexes as baby food, are ... but quite fitting to express my feelings!

The introduction of further paid in-game elements by Snail Games (owner of Wildcard and ARK) could indeed mark the beginning of a comprehensive commercialization. This development poses the risk of further restrictions on the open modding system and free servers. This would be a significant change for the community, which greatly appreciates the freedom and creativity that ARK has offered so far. These assumptions are also expressed by YouTuber LtBuzzLitebeer on his channel, see the embedded video below.

Moreover, the challenge remains that ARK Survival Ascended has not yet reached the expected player numbers and continues to be as strong as the 2015 ARK Survival Evolved. Also, a moon rocket is still needed as a PC to play properly..

Old known content will come with the release of the DLC Maps for ASA, but that will still take months. These delays (including the topic of ARK2) could prompt Snail Games to focus on in-game purchases to ensure the long-term profitability of the game and thus accept further delays of the announced maps.

Ultimately, the future of ARK and the community's response to the upcoming announcements and developments will show how the balance between the need for monetization and the maintenance of game integrity and freedom can be balanced.

May we be wiser in 2025. In that sense:

Get your motor runnin', head out on the highway,
looking for adventure in whatever comes our way.


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