Studio Wildcard, the developer behind the popular ARK: Survival Evolved, has come under fire by its community for releasing a premium expansion while the game is lagging behind in early access.

ARK: Scorched Earth was released on September 1. It introduces new locations, creatures, and items, and is priced at a hefty £14.99/$19.99. It requires players to own Survival Evolved, which is currently on sale for less than its expansion, costing £13.79/$17.99.

Using the Steam reviews system, players have challenged Wildcard’s decision to release a paid-for expansion pack when the game is already behind schedule and currently rife with bugs and performance problems. The game has dropped to a “mixed” rating on the store page because of it:

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ARK: Survival Evolved was meant to launch in June 2016 alongside the console versions (a claim that is still present on the Steam page), however it is still in development months later. There is no official word on when the game will get a full launch outside of a rapidly approaching Q4 2016 window.

Things have been turbulent for Wildcard recently, which might explain (but not excuse) the decision to launch the expansion now.

In April, the company allegedly settled a lawsuit from Dungeon Defenders’ developer Trendy for a whopping $40 million after it was claimed that ARK designer Jeremy Stieglitz worked on the game while at Trendy, a breach of a non-compete clause in his contract.

Later on, Wildcard released ARK: Survival of the Fittest, a competitive Hunger Games-style standalone that had ambitious plans of being the next big esport. It was then rolled back into Survival Evolved only a short while later, with the future of the gamemode on consoles looking uncertain.

We have contacted Wildcard for a statement, and will update should we get a response.

Joe is LPVG’s resident hardware nerd. If it’s overpriced and has gaudy RGB lighting, he’s probably drooling over it. He loves platformers, MMOs, RPGs, hack ‘n slashers and FPS, with his favourite games being Mirror’s Edge, Left 4 Dead, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Oblivion and Dead Space. Don’t ask him about his unhealthily large Monsters Inc memorabilia collection. Seriously, just don’t ask…

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