Ark: Survival Evolved developer Studio Wildcard has been lambasted by fans for releasing a premium expansion while the game is still in Early Access.
The DLC in question, Scorched Earth, was unveiled on September 1. It was described by the studio as the "single biggest update in our 14 month development cycle," and features an entirely new map along with additional weapons, resources, and ecosystems.
Scorched Earth is currently retailing for $19.99, but some fans have taken issue with Wildcard's decision to commit time and resources to developing paid-for content while the main game remains incomplete.
In the four days since the expansion was unveiled, the Steam page for Ark has been inundated with negative reviews and complaints.
"I really like Ark. It's got a lot going for it. Unfortunately, as of today, I can't say that any of that matters [because] Wildcard announced there is now a $20 paid expansion for their early access game that still is missing huge amounts of core features." wrote one disgruntled reviewer.
"Ripping people off by not even finishing making the game we spent our money to fund and then charging for a DLC while its still in Early Access. I feel like they should refund the people who bought the original game because this is just ridiculous." added another.
At the time of writing, the 'most helpful reviews' from the past 30 days are all negative, with every single one calling Wildcard's decision into question.
Ark still maintains an overall rating of 'mostly positive', although its recent rating of 'mostly negative' shows how quickly fan opinion has shifted.
In a response to the flurry of negative feedback -- which has since been deleted -- a member of Studio Wildcard's QA team called out players for being "too cheap to pony up 20 dollars for a game worth 60."
"If you don't want to pay, that's fine," they elaborated. "We are not holding a gun to your head."
The Wildcard employee has since apologized for the outburst on Reddit, explaining they took the criticism "personally, and felt like my own efforts were completely unappreciated and undervalued."
Although those players frustrated with Wildcard's development priorities are currently making the most noise, there are some who think the community is overreacting.
"You bought a game, not stock in the company. You'd rather they spent time finishing the game instead of working on expansions?" wrote one such player. "Tough. Unless you're a share holder, you should have no expectation of having any say over the development road map."