'ARK: Survival of the Fittest' rejoins the main ARK game

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ARK: Survival Evolved has been one of the biggest Early Access hits of the past few years, so much so in fact that a single game mode from the main title was spun off into its own free-to-play game. But now, as the developers look to make changes to the engine and the game world, the game is coming back to the fold and has become part of the original game again.

If you haven’t heard of it, ARK: Survival Evolved is an open-world survival title, with a major focus on taming, riding, and fighting with the local dinosaur population. If you’ve seen images or videos of some game where people are riding giant prehistoric beasts and wailing on each other with everything from bows and arrows to grenade launchers, chances are you were looking at ARK.

And if you werent’t looking at ARK, you were likely looking at its spinoff game, Survival of the Fittest (SotF). As a free-to-play game, it acted as a great introduction for many people and it has even become a bit of an esports hit. However because it’s built on the same foundations as the main game, the developers didn’t want to do all the leg work of modifying both code bases, so they’re just making Survival of the Fittest part of the main ARK again.

The developers also admitted that the game mode was a bit of a money sink, since it was free to play and didn’t feature any micro-transactions or ways for the developer to earn anything from its many thousands of players.

Related: Play ‘Skyrim’ on PS4 and Xbox One this fall with mods

“If we’re able to make performance updates due to optimization work done on the main game, SotF will also receive them,” developer Wildcard said in a post on Steam (via Eurogamer). “Major content upgrades to SotF will be pending further expansion of the team, and the development kit will continue be updated with content from ARK: Survival Evolved (which can be directly copied into SotF by modders).”

None of this means anything will break for anyone though. The standalone game will still work for those that have it, whether they purchased ARK: Survival Evolved or not. It also means that those using the recently released ARK development kit will have access to all of the same resources whether they want to modify the main game or Survival of the Fittest.

It does however also mean that the console ports for Survival of the Fittest have been shelved for now, but since bringing that to consoles in its current guise would have been expensive without retooling it, Wildcard said that doing this would have required it to learn how to become a free-to-play developer.

Neither the firm nor the player base were keen to see micro-transactions or other paywalls appear in ARK, regardless of game mode, so this is likely the best decision for everyone moving forward.

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