Update September 6, 2016: Studio Wildcard have responded to community criticisms about the announcement of a paid expansion for a game that isn't yet out of Early Access.
The announcement of the ARK expansion Scorched Earth was met by some fairly loud hostility from its playerbase, annoyed that they were being sold something when the original game was yet to be finished. As part of a blog post, Studio Wildcard have responded and explained that launching the expansion now is part of their testing process.
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In the post, Wildcard say that they are "absolutely committed to driving aggressive development towards a solid, feature-robust game launch for ARK: Survival Evolved." They also explain that the retail release is now going to be significantly expanded from their original vision, and thank their community for the passion that has allowed them to get to that point.
As for expansions, they explain that their "original vision always included the creation of Expansion ARKs, along with the infrastructure and technical systems to transfer data dynamically between live ARKs." They need to do tests for that, which is part of why the expansion is being made. "While that meant unveiling the first Expansion early, it also means an easier time integrating further post-launch Expansions into the ARK network" they say.
Wildcard also explain that they realise this isn't a perfect solution, but that it is going to make post-release expansions much easier to put together. Based pon the comments on the post, any communication is seen as good communication, but some are still displeased with the expansion as a whole.
We've contacted Studio Wildcard for comment, especially in regards to our interview last year when co-founder Jesse Rapczak told us "The first approach, the most basic approach, is to have a production schedule that we intend to stick to" when it comes to finishing Early Access games.
Original story September 1, 2016: Ark: Survival Evolved just, well, evolved, releasing a massive new expansion called Scorched Earth, bringing dragons and other fantasy creatures like rock golems to a brand new landmass.
You'll have to start from scratch in this new land, stranded naked on a drought-ridden island filled with claws, teeth and probably not a lot of water. You'll need to build shelter to cope with the extreme heat and to duck away from the eyes of predatory flying lizards.
Once you're on your feet, you can take any of the new tools, weapons and tamed creatures back to the main game to impress your friends and terrify your enemies. Having problems with a local clan? Nothing a squad of dragons won't fix.
Ark: Scorched Earth isn't in Early Access, it's a finished product that's available for $19.99 on Steam. Ark itself is currently 40% off.