After two years entirely in early access, Studio Wildcard’s Ark: Survival Evolved finally—and officially—launched for consoles and PC and went gold doing so. How do you promote the premiere of a game millions are already playing? Cater to the players, of course.
Ark: Survival Evolved begins with a man or woman waking up naked on a mysterious island. Freezing, starving and alone, each player must learn to hunt, craft items, grow crops, build shelter and tame animals. Players can even train, ride and hunt dinosaurs and other prehistoric beasts while attacking or defending themselves from other players. As each player advances in the game, they gain access to more advanced weaponry and armor, creating new opportunities for multiplayer challenges and building just about any kind of world they choose.
An evolution event leading up to the game’s official launch helped players progress faster in the game, speeding up the time it takes to earn experience points, hatch new creatures and more.
Studio Wildcard has created a massive community through its streaming and modding communities. Built in Unreal Engine, Ark: Survival Evolved not only allows but encourages players to tinker with the game and make it their own.
“Since partnering up with Epic and opening up our Ark Dev Kit in July of 2015, we have seen over 2,500 different mods enter our Steam Workshop,” the developer wrote on its website. “It is an understatement to say how much we truly appreciate and value our modding community and want to do more to help facilitate the progress of mods, as well as modders.”
Earlier this year, Studio Wildcard introduced Sponsored Mods, which pays a $4,000 stipend toward 15 projects each month to help support creative modders within the community. Each project has the chance to be included in the official game. The first to accomplish this is Ragnarok—a fantasy-themed DLC released for free today.
One mod in particular—a competitive, battle royale mode for the game called Ark: Survival of the Fittest—allowed Studio Wildcard to dip its toe into the esports arena. However in September, the developer stopped development on the project in favor of the main game.
“Ark: Survival of the Fittest was for us an experiment,” Jeremy Stieglitz, Studio Wildcard’s co-founder, told PC Gamer. “It started as a mod and it was pretty cool and pretty fun. A lot of these games that are very successful—like PUBG, Counter Strike or DotA—originate as mods and can switch over to standalone titles.”
A special collector’s edition of Ark: Survival Evolved is available that includes the game, a season pass with three expansion packs, leather notebook filled with dossiers on each creature from the game, a cloth map of the Ark island, a necklace, development team poster and a collectible faux wooden crate. Purchasing the game at Best Buy also includes a limited-edition steelbook.
Fans can also get a behind-the-scenes look at the official soundtrack, which is available now for purchase. Composed by Gareth Coker (Ori and the Blind Forest), the music for the game was recorded at the historic Abbey Road Studios in London.
Studio Wildcard has created and maintained a loyal following leading up to Ark‘s launch through contests and events and by supporting its modding community.
It’s now up to the players to see how the final game evolves.