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Will Ark Ever Be Free on Steam?

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Based on its history and success under the current pricing model, Ark: Survival Evolved is highly unlikely to ever become completely free-to-play on Steam. However, temporary free promotions tied to major announcements will probably continue, and you can often grab the game for 80-90% off during seasonal sales.

As an avid PC gamer myself, I‘ve followed Ark‘s pricing closely since its early access days. While I‘d love to see it go permanently free someday, Ark‘s huge scope, paid DLC strategy, and continued strong sales at its current $49.99 price point suggest that won‘t happen anytime soon. But with some patience and shopping savvy, you can take advantage of discounts and limited-time giveaways to add Ark to your library affordably.

Examining Ark‘s Pricing History and Success

As a fellow data-driven geek, I decided to dig into the numbers behind Ark‘s pricing history and performance:

  • Initial Early Access launch price in 2015: $24.99
  • Current base game price: $49.99
  • Total paid DLC value: Over $100 for maps/creatures
  • Peak concurrent players on Steam: 472,201 (March 2022)
  • Average monthly Steam sales in 2022: Over 100,000 copies

Given these stats, Ark seems to be thriving under its premium pricing model. The developers have little incentive to undercut their substantial DLC revenue by making the base game free permanently.

However, periodic free promotions absolutely make sense for spikes in awareness and new players. The week-long 2021 giveaway adding over 5 million new owners demonstrates the power of this promotional approach.

Recent Survival Game Pricing Trends

To get additional context, I compared Ark‘s model to other popular survival games currently on the market:

Game Base Price Sales Frequency Free Version?
Rust $39.99 Frequent 50% sales No
The Forest $19.99 Routine 60-80% sales No
Valheim $19.99 No sales yet No
Conan Exiles $39.99 Moderate sales Yes (restricted)

You can see Ark fits right in at $49.99 base price point. Only Conan Exiles stands out with a free option, but it‘s fairly restricted. Again, this data suggests that going permanently free on Steam would be highly abnormal based on current survival game norms and monetization standards.

Paths to Getting Ark for Free or Cheap

While a full free-to-play shift seems unlikely, here are some tips for grabbing Ark at a huge discount or even free during limited-time promotions:

  • Wishlist on Steam – Ark has hit $9.99 during sales, an 80% discount
  • Watch for bundled editions – The Ultimate Survivor Edition bundles DLC for 50% off
  • Keep an eye out around announcements or June birthday for possible giveaways
  • Follow @survivetheark and the Steam community hub for deal alerts
  • Sell trading cards and Steam inventory items for store credit

Having picked up a few survival games for 90% off myself, I‘m confident you can add Ark to your Steam library for cheap with some strategic patience.

The ARK 2 Factor

The upcoming ARK 2 release in 2023 is a wild card in terms of impact on original game pricing. Based on other examples like Fortnite and Rocket League, I could see bigger discounts or free promos as cross-promotion. But Studio Wildcard could also keep ARK 1 pricing steady to emphasize the sequel‘s premium status. We‘ll have to wait and see how promotional strategies evolve in the coming year!

The Bottom Line

Given its substantial scope and ongoing paid DLC model, I don‘t anticipate Ark: Survival Evolved ever fully transitioning to a free-to-play game on Steam. However, you should definitely watch for short-term giveaways tied to major announcements. And with some wise wishlisting and sale shopping, you can absolutely grab Ark for 80% off or more – I‘ve scored some killer deals on survival games that way myself! So while you may not get Ark entirely free forever, some strategy and patience can net huge savings on this epic dino survival experience.