A post by Studio Wildcard on the Survive the ARK community forum has attempted to explain the reasoning behind the controversial move to release DLC for a game in Early Access, as well as outlining future plans for updates of ARK: Survival Evolved.
The controversy was sparked following the release of Scorched Earth, due to the game still being in Early Access. Earlier this week, a passionate rant by a member of the studio ruffled even more feathers. Unfortunately for anyone looking for solid answers to the controversy, the first part of the post does not actually address most of the issues raised by critics, instead going into detail as to why it was advantageous to release the DLC during the Early Access period.
Our original vision for ARK always included the creation of Expansion ARKs, along with the infrastructure and technical systems to transfer data dynamically between live ARKs. We determined that it is more sound to iterate on these systems during Early Access than after retail launch, given the significant risks involved if we didn't "get it right". While that meant unveiling the first Expansion early, it also means an easier time integrating further post-launch Expansions into the ARK network. We understand that this isn't everyone's cup of tea, and we appreciate the enjoyment people seem to be getting out of this initial view of how Expansion ARKs can work. Now that we have the systems in place to support them, we can ensure minimal integration issues with subsequent releases after ARK: Survival Evolved itself has launched.
Wildcard also took the opportunity to update fans on future plans for the ARK universe, as well as introducing a new tamable dinosaur for remaining players. The Kentrosaurus is almost a mini-version of a Stegosaurus - unfortunately not rideable, but ferocious in temperament and deadly in packs. The post recommends using them to guard outposts, the lore-based description claiming that a herd of Kentrosaurs (Kentrosauruses? Kentrosaurii?) is more than capable of taking out a much larger predator. And if those alone weren't terrifying enough, Studio Wildcard are also making the skies scarier by promising that the "fan-favorite creatures Tapejara and Archaeopteryx" will also arrive later this week, with the release of Update 247.
Dinosaur-breeding enthusiasts (no judgement here, friends, although if you don't breed Raptors you're doing it wrong) can also rejoice, since the next phase of breeding is also on the way, with Breeding Phase 3 introducing random mutations and family trees into the mix.
The end game of ARK will also soon be changing with the long-promised arrival of the Boss Ascension Cycle. This system gives top tribes the chance to earn the right to sacrifice their avatars and start over by defeating a succession of harder and harder bosses. Little is known about the advantages of sacrifice, but it is assumed that access to "Tek Tier" Power Armor will tie into this cycle of sacrifice and rebirth. Finally, procedurally-generated ARKs are still in the works, with a PC release date of next month.
This explanation was Wildcard's chance to really set the record straight, but by refusing to actually answer the issues, they may have just made it worse for themselves. The issue was never that the DLC existed - it was that it had a paywall to access. If people minded having to beta test a game, they wouldn't be playing. With that said, the promised updates look pretty solid, and Studio Wildcard may actually manage to salvage something of worth out of this mess.