Ark: Survival Ascended lead designer Jeremy Stieglitz admits 'the servers are ass, they run like ass, and their stability is ass'

Dinosaurs fighting
(Image credit: Studio Wildcard)
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This story originally stated that crossplay had been disabled for PC players—to clarify, that was only true of PC players using Windows 10.

Ark: Survival Ascended, the Unreal Engine 5 remaster of Ark: Survival Evolved, had a heck of a launch in early October. With 600,000 copies sold after only two weeks, it looked like it'd quickly march right up the list of the most played games on Steam, where the original dino survival game perched for so many years.

Not quite. Ascended is currently averaging about 50,000 concurrent players and sits at around number 20 on the Steam charts, which is impressive—but player satisfaction is a different story. Ark is currently sporting the dreaded "Mixed" reviews label on Steam, and only about 60% of its more than 35,000 reviews are positive.

While complaints in those reviews run the gamut of crashes, bugs, poor optimization and low fps (which sounds a lot like Ark's original early access launch back in 2014) a lot of reviews mention servers as its biggest issue.

"Official servers still crash and roll back every 15 minutes," reads one Steam review. "Official servers also still stutter and lag like i'm stuck in 2015."

"Constant crashes with the added penalty of having to spam connect on servers for 20-30 minutes before getting let in," reads another. "Of the 2 hours I've played, at least 1 full hour was spent trying to connect to ANY server."

"Fix your dumb servers," another review bluntly demands. "It is like Atlas 2 but with more bugs and less fun."

If it's any consolation, the co-creator of Ark: Survival Ascended not only hears those cries from the community, but agrees with the general sentiment.

"Firstly, I wanna say the servers are ass, they run like ass, and their stability is ass," Studio Wildcard co-founder and Ark co-creator Jeremy Stieglitz said on a recent Extra Life charity Twitch livestream. (The full stream is here.)

"We need to improve it," Stieglitz added. "It's gonna be improved imminently." 

That's a pretty refreshing statement and not the usual boilerplate response you tend to see from game studios. On the other hand, server problems aren't the only recent hiccup for the new version of Ark. Rampant cheating by PC players using Windows 10 (you know who you are) led to the temporary removal of crossplay while Studio Wildcard works on better anti-cheating solutions. 

"We apologize to our Windows players but we feel this is the best course of action for the health of the game," the studio said. (That's more like the standard dry messaging we expect.)

These issues follow the poorly-handed runup to launch which included delays and pricing confusion as the remaster went from free to bundled for $50 to bundled again but for $60, before eventually settling on a $45 price tag (without a bundle). Overall the launch has been a bit of a mess, but the same can be said for the original Ark, and that eventually sold millions of copies and became one of the biggest survival games ever. We'll keep an eye on the remaster to see if it gets straightened out. 

Christopher Livingston
Staff Writer

Chris started playing PC games in the 1980s, started writing about them in the early 2000s, and (finally) started getting paid to write about them in the late 2000s. Following a few years as a regular freelancer, PC Gamer hired him in 2014, probably so he'd stop emailing them asking for more work. Chris has a love-hate relationship with survival games and an unhealthy fascination with the inner lives of NPCs. He's also a fan of offbeat simulation games, mods, and ignoring storylines in RPGs so he can make up his own.