Up For Debate - Selling Paid Expansions And DLC For A Game Still In Early Access

Written by Jon Sutton on Sun, Sep 11, 2016 4:00 PM
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There’s been a storm brewing around ARK: Survival Evolved this last week. Studio Wildcard surprised us all with the launch of the $30 ARK: Scorched Earth expansion for a game which is still in Early Access, and a number of fans are understandably displeased.

Studio Wildcard attempted to stifle the flames with a message to the ARK community, saying “we are absolutely committed to driving aggressive development towards a solid, feature-robust game launch for ARK: Survival Evolved.

“It’s not always easy, but our intent is ever-forward progress towards a retail release that will be far more ambitious in scope and features than our original vision when we launched ARK into Steam Early Access in June 2015.”

So development of ARK: Survival Evolved continues ahead, although that doesn’t really address the key issue here. Millions of players have forked out for the Early Access version of Survival Evolved under the assumption that their money would go towards finishing development of the base game, rather than funding a $30 expansion which they’re then going to have to buy on top of the original purchase.

“Our original vision for ARK always included the creation of Expansion ARKs [like the Scorched Earth expansion], along with the infrastructure and technical systems to transfer data dynamically between live ARKs,” Studio Wildcard said in an attempt to justify its decision.

“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.”

There’s arguments to be made on both sides here, and whatever the outcome it’s an unprecedented step for an Early Access title which others are surely going to replicate. For me personally it leaves a sour taste in my mouth, and it’s not like Studio Wildcard are strapped for cash; SteamSpy estimates there around four million players on PC alone, with console players still to take into account.

For all the drama surrounding it though, it doesn’t seem have mattered one jot to players’ appetite for the online survival game. ARK: Scorched Earth is already a Steam bestseller and the base game is also in the top five.

So where do you stand on releasing paid expansions and DLC for a game still in Early Access? Has Studio Wildcard done right by fans here, or do you feel those who purchased it have been duped? Let us know your thoughts below!

How do you feel about paid DLC for Early Access games?

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20:59 Sep-13-2016

One of the reasons I stopped pre-ordering and only buy on Steam sales these days. Seems like the entire industry is hell bent on irritating me.

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04:01 Sep-13-2016

Hate is a strong emotion for such a trivial thing as dlc/expansions... there should be an option like: Won't support it, the end.


Besides most big games in the last 3-4 years have been unfinished, unoptimized mess... not much different then early access games lol

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06:01 Sep-13-2016

I think the "Dislike It" option pretty much serves the purpose of what you're saying.

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17:11 Sep-12-2016

I'm a simple man-hate it.

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16:31 Sep-12-2016

How is early access different from AAA games? Just think about it, they are all released unfinished, I'm looking at you Arkham Knight & SFV!

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16:23 Sep-12-2016

Given how AAA pubs/devs tend to screw gamers over with shady practices only fools would believe that non AAA devs would be different.

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12:07 Sep-12-2016

I guess this is gonna be the topic for the next Jimquisition.

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12:06 Sep-12-2016

Its time to stop!

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11:48 Sep-12-2016

I know it might be irrelevant, but I can't believe it's 2016 and Dayz is still in early access.

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13:25 Sep-12-2016

Remember when DayZ was still a mod? Yeah and it hasn't really improved since...

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17:01 Sep-12-2016

ouch.

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08:56 Sep-13-2016

it hasnt improved at all lol and when i asked why development is taking so long i got permanetly banned from the steam forums


thanks rocket i totally didnt donate to you back in the day nah that money is being used for tp

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11:43 Sep-13-2016

Mega ouch. Feel sorry for you, man.

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10:20 Sep-12-2016

How come a game is in early access for this long?
And mean while Devs was making a DLC and the irony is they still sell a lot more than normal!

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09:28 Sep-12-2016

Early Access = A way to release a half-assed broken game full of bugs
"excuse me mr developer, i played your game and this happened..." "Hey, don't worry. thats normal. its early access... meanwhile, heres some DLC you can buy..." lol -_-

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08:34 Sep-12-2016

I was surprised when I saw the DLC being the most sold thing for the week on steam... no wonder devs make DLCs...

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12:56 Sep-13-2016

I wasn't surprised.

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07:28 Sep-12-2016

It's a d!ck move for sure. But I'm not sure I absolutely hate it.
Yes, 30 bucks is a bit much for a DLC for a game that isn't even finished, but if they really want to, as stated,
add quite a few DLCs into the mix, I guess it makes sense from a developer's standpoint, to get a "dummy DLC" going so they know that part of the engine is working before they develop more DLCs for it.


To sum up: They probably had their reasons and I won't judge them harshly for it, but if they try this again....

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08:49 Sep-12-2016

It still is somewhat weird though that games have fallen to a point where DLCs are basically "required".
I know that lots of people (myself included), buy the games at around half their regular price,
but if DLCs are already being planned before game release.. something is wrong.
Still.. in case of ARK.. there's a lot of content in this game already. It's good that the devs still have a lot more planned for it, but I don't think people have a reason to be so discontent.

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08:55 Sep-12-2016

Instead of releasing a "dummy DLC", perhaps they should've used the money resources given to them by backers to finish the base game?
Finish what you've started and then think about future ideas to keep the game fresh and giving revenue.

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09:05 Sep-12-2016

I can't argue with that. Of course you are right about that. However ARK already has a lot to offer. And I mean A LOT.
I'm not trying to justify their decisions, but in my opinion it doesn't matter too much, because you can already easily invest hundreds of hours into ARK and not get bored. That's something a lot of games fail to achieve even in their fully released, most bug-fixed state.

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09:13 Sep-12-2016

I've thought this through many times as well, if ARK is basically finished why not say they're out of EA instead of hiding behind it. I'm sure the feedback on ARK's DLC would've been totally different if they were out of EA.

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06:37 Sep-12-2016

This game is in early access yet is on sale quite a bit for a game that is not released and so that base game is not sold at maximum dollars per copy sold. A person with a decent job could buy this game for near an hours worth of work now.

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06:47 Sep-12-2016

40% off the base game, near half of the total cost nulled for three and a half days more.
https://www.humblebundle.com/store/ark-survival-evolved

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03:11 Sep-12-2016

I LOVED Ark for the month I played it (Pouring well over 200 hours into it in that month, not to mention going to school full time), when I got the notification on Steam that a DLC had launched for it, I double checked to see when it came out of early access. Then, surprise surprise, it never had. Needless to say I was a bit upset. I looked online, and I didn't see many people upset over it, and I was extremely confused. I expected a similar reaction to when Steam and Bethesda tried payed mods, but, I found virtually nothing online about it.

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03:13 Sep-12-2016

Fast forward a few days, and, to my satisfaction, the internet blew up. I am more than happy to throw my weight behind any movement against this. This is anti-consumer, and it is hurting the gaming industry. This sh*t has to stop! DLC is getting out of hand.

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23:32 Sep-11-2016

I have a problem with paid dlc for unfinished games , but lets be honest , almost all Early-access games are as finished as they are ever going to be , so I dont actually count them as ,,alpha'' state games and more like full titles .

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23:33 Sep-11-2016

Still voting against it though

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23:22 Sep-11-2016

It's disgusting behaviour. How can you excuse yourself from selling DLC for a game you're still making?
If you have time to make DLC, you sure as hell have time to finish making the game people have already paid you to make.


There are already many reasons (and "games") to boycott the Early Access program. They need not add more.

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22:46 Sep-11-2016

Valve should forbid the release of DLCs or expansions during early accesses and even set a period of at least 1 year from the release during which the devs cannot release any DLCs or expansions, them being free or not.

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22:38 Sep-11-2016

I dont even ''Early Access'' any game and you want me to buy a DLC????????


Its like saying ''i have an idea that you might love it but you cant hear it if you dont buy me that banana also''.


just sayin...

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22:39 Sep-11-2016

cuz i like bananas

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22:46 Sep-11-2016
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22:30 Sep-11-2016

Every penny earned from the beginning of development to the time of relief should go to the main game. Everything bit of development from the beginning to the time of release should be part of the main game. Expansions shouldn't be worked on AT ALL until after the game has been released.

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22:16 Sep-11-2016

I feel like a year should be about the maximum time a game should be in early access. They should just finally finish the game already.

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23:07 Sep-11-2016

agree with you on this case but sometimes there are good reasons for a full complete game to have dlc released soon after the main game

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20:49 Sep-12-2016

True, there are always exceptions

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