Ark: Survival Evolved studio settles legal dispute over alleged code theft, and in a surprise twist they're now helping to 're-release' the game they said ripped them off

Myth of Legend character concept art
(Image credit: Angela Game)

A dispute between Ark: Survival Evolved developer Studio Wildcard and the makers of Chinese strategy game Myth of Empires has come to a happy ending, as all parties involved say they're now going to work together to "re-release" Myth of Empires on Steam and other platforms in early 2024.

The trouble began in December 2021, shortly after the launch of Myth of Empires on Steam, when Studio Wildcard noticed a number of similarities between that game and Ark that it believed were more than just a coincidence. Studio Wildcard developers then examined code headers in the Myth of Empires executable and said they found proof that it was actually built upon the Ark: Survival Evolved source code. Wildcard's parent company Snail Games alleged that the source had been stolen by "key employees" of Myth of Empires developer Angela Game, who had previously worked at Snail.

A summary of that evidence was presented to Valve, which removed the game from Steam on December 3. Angela Game responded by issuing a flat-out denial of the claims against it and then, a couple weeks later, filing a lawsuit to force Myth of Empires' return to Steam. Snail Games and Studio Wildcard fired back with further details about what it called a "brazen theft of Snail USA and Wildcard's intellectual property."

That claim was bolstered by a statement by Bastian Suter, CEO of anti-cheat maker BattlEye, who said his own independent investigation revealed that "Myth of Empires' executable contained several unique strings used by BattlEye integration code, which are also present in Ark. There are some slight changes to some of those strings, but those mostly consist of changing 'BattlEye' to 'BatEye' in almost all BattlEye references through the game." 

At that point the lawyers took over and that was the last we heard of it until today, when all parties involved announced that they've sorted things out.

"Following nearly two years of litigation, we are pleased to announce this settlement agreement for Snail, Angela, and Studio Wildcard," Angela Game president Yi Leng Zheng said in a statement. "Angela acknowledges that it caused difficulties for Snail’s business. By working together, Angela and Snail will put those difficulties behind them.

"Angela regrets any difficulties it caused Snail and look forward to moving into this business partnership. At the same time we hope that, with Snail’s extensive user resources and excellent platform relationships built on Ark, they can assist us in our future publishing efforts, injecting greater market vitality into Myth of Empires."

"We are pleased to announce this settlement agreement and facilitate the re-release of Myth of Empires which benefits both parties and opens up additional revenue streams for us through the partnership with Angela," Studio Wildcard co-founder Doug Kennedy said.

As part of the settlement, Snail Games will withdraw the DMCA notice that forced the removal of Myth of Empires from Steam, and further will "work collaboratively with PC distribution platforms for a re-release of the game in early 2024." Snail is also working with Angela Game on bringing Myth of Empires to PlayStation and Xbox consoles in early 2024, "and will assist in public relations, marketing, and first party support for the game."

Myth of Empires has remained available directly to players its own website, but that's been an imperfect situation for gamers in North America: According to a Reddit post from earlier this year, US-based players have to use a VPN to verify their accounts, and there are no official US servers; custom servers are available, but few in number and sparsely populated. Myth of Empires got off to a very strong start on Steam in 2021, achieving a peak concurrent player count of more than 47,000 prior to its removal, and a comeback will address those shortcomings—what remains to be seen is whether it will be able to bring back those impressive numbers when it returns.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.