Ark: Survival of the Fittest began life in mid-2015 as a mod for Ark: Survival Evolved in which players, individually or in small teams, compete in a Hunger Games-like, last-man-standing tournament. It proved popular enough that Studio Wildcard spun it off into a free standalone game earlier this year, adding cash prizes to the mix just to keep things interesting. But yesterday the studio announced that it has been “re-integrated” into Survival Evolved, in order to give it full Steam Workshop support.
“We think that Steam Workshop support for Survival of the Fittest is a significant addition—it's pretty much the most-requested feature for the game at the present time,” Studio Wildcard co-founder Jeremy Stieglitz said. “We can now support unlimited modding with both games and modders have instant access to work with new content as it drops into either game.”
For purposes of “technical functionality,” Survival of the Fittest will continue to operate as a standalone game, separate from Survival Evolved, and it will remain fully accessible to anyone who downloaded it while it was free, even if they don't own the game from whence it sprung. But it will be “considered part of the ARK: Survival Evolved product group” from here on, meaning that it will only be available with the purchase of Survival Evolved.
Studio Wildcard said in the latest Survival of the Fittest Steam update that the main reason for rolling the two into one was to ensure that modders making new material for Fittest have full, unrestricted access to Evolved content. But supporting Survival of the Fittest as a free game was also a challenge, and the team decided that it didn't want to fall back on conventional free-to-play options like in-app purchases in order to pay the bills.
“We don’t know much about monetization, and quite frankly we aren’t interested in hiring an economics team to take over that process, it is much more in our and your best interest for Wildcard to solely focus on the development of a game,” the studio wrote. “We just aren’t cut out for free to play mechanics. With SotF being part of Ark: Survival Evolved, it’ll be able to draw from Survival Evolved resource pool directly, and enable us to continue operating the title.”
A large-scale Survival of the Fittest mod contest will get underway in the near future, “to help give the SotF creative community a boost to get out there and make cool stuff,” Studio Wildcard said. It also announced that the July Survivor League Championship, in which the top Survival of the Fittest teams square off for a share of more than $65,000 in prizes, will begin at 8 am PT on August 6, and be broadcast on Twitch.