'Paid mods [are] a way for us to get more free art content to players,' says Ark dev on future of sponsored scheme

In February, Ark: Survival Evolved developer Studio Wildcard unveiled a sponsored programme that would pay mod creators on a monthly basis for their work. Offering a stipend of $4,000 per month, each individual's work would be evaluated, and it would thereafter be determined if those modders would continue to be paid for the next month. 

With the dino hunter's August 8 PC release looming, however, not much has been said about the programme since—its Ragnarok map has been received well, however we don't know much about what happens next. To this end, I spoke to the developer's Jesse Stieglitz about how he and his team plan to grow the initiative post-launch. 

"We've not dedicated all that much time to promoting it, maybe not as much as we'd have liked to, however that's probably because we've been focused on shaping things up for our retail launch," says Stieglitz. "But we recently put out our next official mod called Ragnarok with a mod team that's now officially supported and we'll continue to have servers up for it and we'll have updates and more polished applied. 

"They basically get not only money from us but they get development support from us and that's probably more valuable to them because we help them shape it up technically and artistically and creatively."

Stieglitz suggests the sponsored community maps will only get bigger and better from hereon, and that the Ragnarok team are among the best level designers he's seen. Development on Ragnarok will continue till completion, and Wildcard plans to launch "at least" one more official DLC this year, with Stieglitz hopefully of a second. 

He continues: "Essentially the official mods, or paid mods pipeline is a way for us to get more free art content to players. We can only do so much ourselves so we look at best of what the mod community has to offer and how can we help them make their content better than it already is—whether it's financial support, but also a lot of the things it's logistics or technical support. There will be others and we use this as a kind of seeding programme to find the next ones. We'll hopefully have more to announce there going forward."

Ark: Survival Evolved is due to launch in full August 8, 2017.