RocketWerkz CEO Dean Hall has criticised Studio Wildcard for its decision to double the price of Ark: Survival Evolved on Early Access. According to Hall, Ark is "nowhere near" a state that could justify a AAA price.
Studio Wildcard doubled Ark's Early Access price to $60 last week, citing the need for "parity" with a retail version that will launch on August 8. The game first launched on Early Access in June 2015, but Hall used Twitter as a platform to voice his concerns with Wildcard's decision.
Just so we're clear on my opinion: the price increase for Ark is ****ing OUTRAGEOUS.— Dean Hall (@rocket2guns) July 6, 2017
Hall, who helped to establish Early Access with the the success of DayZ, clarified his strong choice of words by saying that Ark is "nowhere near ready for the kind of price", and pointed to "greed - pure and simple" as the motivating factor for doubling the price. "It represents a huge disconnect with the community," he said.
Garry Newman, the creator of Garry's Mod and the Early Access hit Rust, responded to Hall's tweets, suggesting that Studio Wildcard's ongoing success might be something that other developers could learn from.
They're good at making money, dlc, consoles, price hikes, still in ea, doesn't really seem to hurt them. Maybe we could learn something.— Garry Newman (@garrynewman) July 7, 2017
Hall subsequently talked to PC Gamer, where he stressed the need for Early Access games to remain on the platform until they are "bug free", rather then rush into a full release at a higher price.
"I believe Ark, like DayZ or any other Early Access game, should remain in Early Access until it achieves the expected performance and bug standards of it's price," he said. Hall conceded that the price increase is unlikely to harm Wildcard's position of strength in commercial terms, but it was "symptomatic that those making the price decisions don't care about the state of the game and just want to get into boxed retail as quickly as possible."
"So, it's not so much the price that worries me. But those making the pricing decisions seem so disconnected from the development," Hall continued. "It seems to me that the release of Early Access is fairly arbitrary and being driven around the desire to have boxed sets on shelves - rather than actually having a relatively bug-free and balanced game."
We recently talked to Studio Wildcard about its approach to handling complaints from Ark's community. The issues raised are particularly relevant in light of Hall's vocal opposition to the price increase - you can read it here.