Ark: Survival Ascended — Xbox release, servers, and everything you need to know

Ark: Survival Ascended reveal screenshots
(Image credit: Xbox, Studio Wildcard)

Ark: Survival Ascended is a remaster of the 2015 dino-themed survival game Ark: Survival Evolved. Studio Wildcard announced the remaster in March 2023, with an intention for the game to go live in late October. The game was planned as a remaster in Unreal Engine 5, with an emphasis on cross-platform compatibility and mod support. In preparation for Survival Ascended, the official PvP servers for Survival Evolved were taken offline in September in anticipation of the upcoming release. 

Despite being an 8-year-old game, Ark: Survival Evolved still had a very active community. Players who were subscribed to Xbox or PC Game Pass were able to enjoy not just the base game but all of Ark’s DLC content, as well. Survival Evolved was doing so well that it even hit its peak on Steam just 17 months ago with 248,405 concurrent players, according to SteamDB. However, the game was certainly showing its age. From underbaked visual effects to a lack of support for cross-platform play, Survival Evolved was in desperate need of a facelift. 

The reveal

Ark: Survival Ascended adds a photo mode. (Image credit: Studio Wildcard)

Studio Wildcard partnered with Grove Studio Games to co-develop Ark: Survival Ascended, and then partnered with Snail Games to co-publish the remaster. After a period of silence from the studios, a tweet from the official Ark Twitter account shared a close-up screenshot of a raptor from Ark: Survival Ascended taken in the game’s brand-new photo mode with an announcement that the game had been submitted to consoles for certification. 

Ark: Survival Ascended was finally revealed with a short but exciting gameplay trailer during the Xbox Partner Preview showcase on October 25. A blog post about the game went up on Xbox Wire, written by Studio Wildcard executive producer Jatheish Karunakaran. The blog post focused heavily on Ark: Survival Ascended’s cross-platform performance, noting the importance of parity between the game’s console and PC releases with regard to the PvP experience.

Release date

The reveal trailer for Ark: Survival Ascended that was shown during the Xbox Partner Preview showcase only stated “Coming Soon” in lieu of a release date. However, shortly after the Xbox reveal for the game went live, a second trailer was uploaded to the official Ark channel on YouTube. This trailer claimed that Ark would be available on Steam on October 25

The official SurvivetheArk Twitter account then followed up with a tweet that the team was pushing for a 4:30 PM PT launch window, then later pushed the release time back to 6:30 to 7:00 PM PT. Eventually, in the wee hours of October 26, Ark: Survival Ascended was pushed live for Steam. 

Is Ark: Survival Ascended coming to Xbox?

Hunting with a bow and arrow in the jungle biome. (Image credit: Studio Wildcard, Snail Games)

Yes. Ark: Survival Ascended will be released to Xbox Series X|S and PlayStation 5 consoles sometime in November. In a November 3 update, Studio Wildcard shared that it is targeting a November 14 Mid-November release date for Xbox and Windows PC.  After initially announcing November 14 as the release date, Studio Wildcard tweeted on November 13 to share that the game was still undergoing the certification process for Xbox and would face yet another delay. Thankfully, this one is expected to only be a few days, with the game launching later in the week if all goes according to plan.

With the game now in the wild for Steam players, console gamers were left wondering when they would get a chance to survive the ark for themselves. Studio Wildcard published a blog post on the Survive the Ark website when the game went live on Steam to explain the reason behind the delayed console launch. 

According to Studio Wildcard, the team was running Ark: Survival Ascended through internal quality assurance testing the night before the reveal when they discovered a “critical issue” affecting multiplayer on consoles. As a result, the console launch of ASA was pushed back to give the team time to fix the issues plaguing consoles.

Is Ark: Survival Ascended cross-play?

When ASA was originally revealed, there was a lot of emphasis on the game’s new cross-play features, including cross-platform support for progression and mods. It would also mark the first time that the game’s Steam, Windows PC, Xbox, and PS5 players could come together to play on the same servers. That dream was short-lived, however, as the game’s launch had to be broken up between platforms. 

Ark: Survival Ascended screenshots

Wooly mammoths push a tree in Ark: Survival Ascended. (Image credit: Studio Wildcard, Snail Games)

It was originally announced that when the game launches on consoles, cross-play with Steam would be temporarily turned off. This is due in part to the fact that Steam players will have an advantage on official servers. Studio Wildcard has said that there will be console servers with buffed resource gains for console players at launch to help level the playing field. 

Studio Wildcard's November 3 blog post provided an update to cross play for the Xbox launch of the game. Players on Xbox and Windows PC will now have cross-platform play with Steam and Windows PC enabled Day One, with official servers for respective game modes going live with boosted rates until December to allow Xbox players to catch up.  There will also be Xbox-specific servers to allow for players who do not want to participate in cross play.

Does Ark: Survival Ascended support mods?

Ark: Survival Ascended supports mods on Steam at launch, with cross-platform support for mods expected when the game launches on Xbox and PlayStation. Studio Wildcard has partnered with CurseForge to implement cross-platform mod tools. For the first time, CurseForge and server host Nitrado will also support cross-play on modded servers once it becomes available. 

The Ark: Survival Ascended cross-platform mod browser. (Image credit: Xbox, Studio Wildcard)

Nitrado server exclusivity

When Ark: Survival Ascended was unveiled, it was revealed that Snail Games and Studio Wildcard had entered an exclusivity agreement with Nitrado for the official ASA servers. Previously on Ark: Survival Evolved, players could choose from multiple third-party server hosting options when looking to rent dedicated servers for their communities of all sizes. Now, it's Nitrado or nothing. This has led to outrage from the ASA community, who find Nitrado's offerings insufficient and overpriced.

Studio Wildcard and Nitrado both have openly struggled with ASA's server demands, with players reporting that official servers were crashing within hours of having been brought online. The price to rent Nitrado servers was also a hot button for Steam players. With no competition to force lower rates, Nitrado is currently charging up to $250 per year for an Ark: Survival Ascended server with just 20 slots. 

Ark: Survival Ascended reveal screenshots

Survivors exploring a cave. (Image credit: Xbox, Studio Wildcard)

In an investor report filed by Snail Games, the company states that it had an outstanding debt of $1,046,932 with Nitrado for server fees from Ark: Survival Evolved. Nitrado's parent company, Marbis, agreed to absolve Snail of the outstanding debt and pay $4,046,932 to fund future Ark titles. In exchange, Nitrado would receive seven years of server exclusivity, including the exclusive rights to server coverage for Ark 2. This agreement also expands into "any and all future remakes, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and other related contents" for the Ark franchise.

SEC filings by Snail Games and Marbis revealed a condition to the agreement between the two companies. Should Snail Games and Studio Wildcard fail to release Ark: Survival Ascended globally by October 31, 2023, the agreement would grant Marbis/Nitrado exclusive server hosting rights for Ark: Survival Evolved. This exclusivity clause may have been part of the deciding factor for ASA to launch on Steam without its console counterparts, despite much emphasis on the game's cross-platform capabilities.

Ark: Survival Ascended PC specs

Ark has a long and sordid history with performance issues, and Survival Ascended has found itself in the same boat as its predecessor at launch. Studio Wildcard has taken advantage of Steam's Early Access program for Survival Ascended's launch, but that hasn't stopped the surprise release from receiving an overall Mixed rating on Steam after 16,383 reviews. 

With Survival Ascended only available on Steam for the time being, you'll want to make sure that your PC can handle the game before you purchase. Below are the listed minimum and recommended PC specs for Ark: Survival Ascended.

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Minimum specs
OSWindows 10/11 with updates
CPUAMD Ryzen 5 2600X, Intel Core i7-6800K
GPUAMD Radeon RX 5600XT, NVIDIA GeForce 1080
DirectXVersion 12
Storage70 GB
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Recommended specs
OSWindows 10/11 with updates
CPUAMD Ryzen 5 3600X, Intel Core i5-10600K
GPUAMD Radeon RX 6800, NVIDIA GeForce 3080
DirectXVersion 12
Storage70 GB

Will Ark: Survival Ascended have an upgrade path?

Unfortunately, Ark: Survival Ascended will not have an upgrade path. The game costs $44.99 on Steam with a promotional 10% off until November 8, making it $40.49. There has been no statement on whether the console price will remain the same. 

Despite the lack of an upgrade path for previous players of Ark: Survival Evolved, Studio Wildcard did share a tweet that every Twitch Partner who had previously streamed Ark: Survival Evolved between January 1, 2021 and October 15, 2023 would receive a free copy of the game distributed via Twitch. Twitch affiliates and other smaller creators, however, are left out of this promotion.

Ark: Survival Ascended on Game Pass

Ark: Survival Evolved has been a part of Xbox and PC Game Pass since its inception, with players even having access to all of the available DLC for the game. When Ark 2 was revealed during an Xbox showcase it was confirmed to be a Day One Game Pass title. 

Neither Xbox nor Studio Wildcard have confirmed that Ark: Survival Ascended is coming to Game Pass at this time. However, Xbox and Studio Wildcard's ongoing goodwill toward one another could mean a potential Game Pass launch for ASA when the game is finally released to consoles. 

Ark: Survival Ascended | was $44.99 now $40.49 on Steam

Ark: Survival Ascended | was $44.99 now $40.49 on Steam

Respawn into the ultimate survival experience on an island overrun by majestic and terrifying dinosaurs. Find your tribe, build your base, and tame the dinos to survive. 

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.