ARK: Survival Evolved’s move to mobile brings us one step closer to a glorious new era for mobile gaming

By Joe Robinson 15 Mar 2018 2

Yesterday we released a feature looking at the mobile release of Fortnite Battle Royale, a competitive shooter that was delivering a like-for-like mobile port versus the PC and console experience. We thought it was a pretty big deal then, and today’s news only confirms we’re on the cusp of something truly special.

You may know of ARK: Survival Evolved as one of the indie darlings of PC gaming – along with DayZ, it was a posterchild for the ‘survival-strategy-sim’ genre that dominated the early years of Steam Early Access (I was a Space Engineers man myself). It released as a 'finished' game in August of last year, and it’s also got console versions.

Now, developer Studio Wildcard has announced it will be releasing the game on iOS and Android, and they’ve hired Auralux devs War Drum to take point. Again, this is not as some spin-off of cynical tie-in – the full PC experience is coming to mobile.

Like Fortnite, this will be free-to-play on launch and we don’t know what the business model will be (the base game and its two DLCs sell for £49.99 on Steam). Also like Fortnite, it’s messaging makes it clear that it’s going to be a like-for-like experience:

This on-the-go version features the full online survival experience contained in the PC and console versions of ARK, including a gigantic island to explore, 80+ dinosaurs and primeval creatures to tame and train, multiplayer tribe mechanics, and of course, crafting and building!

Granted, this has to allow for the fact that it’s trying to work on tablets and phones (Android’s more disparate hardware pool is another kettle of fish). The footage in the trailer show off a game that lacks a lot of the visual fidelity of its PC progenitor – it’s like I’m looking at The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim circa 2011.

Of course, that’s not to say Fortnite and ARK are the first to tread this ground: Firaxis and Aspyr brought us Civilization VI on iPad in all its glory. We suspect the $60 price tag of the latter to unlock the full game stopped the significance of this move from really coming through, though.

But if these shooters and survival sims can lead the way - in tech as well as in a business model that’s affordable and doesn’t punish people for existing within a cheaper eco-system – there’s no reason we can’t see other Pocket Tactics favourites make the leap in a complete form. 2018 could be very exciting for mobile gaming.

You can find out more about ARK and its mobile version at the official website. You can pre-register for the beta there as well, and we’re expecting a release sometime in the Spring.

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