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With 9 million players, Ark: Survival Evolved is finally ready to launch

Studio Wildcard to release 'final' version in August, but paid mods and a busy update schedule mean its growth isn't over

The final version of Ark: Survival Evolved will receive a retail and digital release in August, after two years of open development on platforms like Steam Early Access.

According to Studio Wildcard, the game's creator, Ark: Survival Evolved has amassed 9 million players across all platforms. The majority of those will be from Steam Early Access, where the game first launched in June 2015, earning $10 million in revenue in its first week and selling 1 million units in its first month.

It has remained popular among PC players ever since, but it also found a large following on console. Ark was one of the marquee titles in the early days of the Xbox Preview Program, launching in December 2015 and selling 1.5 million units by August 2016. That boosted its lifetime sales to 5.5 million including PC, and Studio Wildcard then released the game on PlayStation 4 in December 2016. Three months later, Ark had added another 1 million sales.

Now, Studio Wildcard is preparing to 'launch' a product that already has 9 million players and is, "the best selling game in the history of Steam's Early Access program." Both a retail and a digital version will be available from August 8, 2017 for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.

Jeremy Stieglitz, co-creative director of Studio Wildcard, said, "for those players who were excited with every update during Early Access, Ark's going to become even more fun with surprise new content at launch and beyond, as we will continue to have a staggering amount of additional gameplay, creatures, and story elements in the works."

The fact that Studio Wildcard will continue to add to the game after its official launch only blurs the line between Early Access and finished product further. In addition, the first content from Ark's Sponsored Mods Program was released yesterday, marking the start of user-generated content becoming a regular feature of the game's update cycle.

The Sponsored Mods Program, which was announced at GDC this year, committed to giving 15 modders $4,000 a month to finish their content to a professional standard. The first release, Ragnarok, comes from a team that had already created the popular mods Valhalla and Umassoura. It is now available for free to all players of Ark's PC players, with a console version due to follow in July.

"ARK is a more interesting and vibrant game because of the creative efforts of our modding community," Stieglitz said in a separate statement. "Being able to transition the top-quality mods into the official game on PC and consoles is invaluable."

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