Studio Wildcard and Overwolf announce the 2023 ARKathon Mod Contest with $350,000 in prizes for creators and studios

ARKathon promotional art
(Image credit: Studio Wildcard, Overwolf)

What you need to know

  • Ark: Survival Ascended will offer cross-platform support for mods when the game launches on consoles.
  • To celebrate cross-platform support, Studio Wildcard and Overwolf will be hosting the 2023 ARKathon Mod Contest.
  • Individual creators and game studios alike can create premium, DLC quality mods for Ark: Survival Ascended and win prizes from a $350,000 prize pool.

Ark: Survival Ascended, the UE5 remake of the popular open-world survival game with dinosaurs from Studio Wildcard, has faced a multitude of delays since we initially found out about it in October at an Xbox Partner Preview showcase. While the game's console version is still without a concrete release date, developers Studio Wildcard are still looking to celebrate the game's support for cross-platform mods by partnering with Overwolf for the 2023 ARKathon Mod Contest.

The ARKathon will give creators large and small a chance to stretch their creative muscles and potentially earn a piece of the $350,000 prize pool. ARKathon is set to begin on December 5 and run until February 5, with creators having the opportunity to participate in one of two available tracks: the Modders track and the Studios track.

Individual creators

The Modders track is intended for individual creators who want to build custom maps, skins, and other mods for Ark: Survival Ascended. This track will be further divided into two categories, one for maps and another for all other creations. Entry is as simple as uploading your mod to CurseForge. Judges will select twelve finalists, with a community vote on Twitter/X to follow. 

A prize of $10,000 will be awarded to the map with the most votes, while the mod with the most votes will win $4,000. Two other maps and four additional mods will also be chosen by the judges to win the same prizes, totaling eight winners and $50,000 in rewards. The winners of the Modders track will be announced on February 28, 2024.

Ark: Survival Ascended mod list via CurseForge. (Image credit: Overwolf, Curseforge)

Game studios

The process for participating in the ARKathon contest is a little more involved for game studios. Studio Track participants will need to submit a short "Kickstarter-like" proposal video to share details about their vision for a DLC-quality mod. The video must showcase the narrative, gameplay, and visuals planned for the premium mod. Studios that submit a playable demo along with their video will receive extra consideration.  

Two winners will be chosen by a panel of judges, while one winner will be selected by the community, with the results of voting to be announced on February 28, 2024. The three winners will receive a $100,000 development grant for their studios. 

ARKathon will run from December 5 to February 5 with winners announced on February 28. (Image credit: Studio Wildcard, Overwolf)

Modding Ark: Survival Ascended

Ark: Survival Ascended uses CurseForge, which is operated by Overwolf, as a white-label solution for easy mod integration across game platforms. CurseForge benefits from open-source SDKs and plugins that make it easy to let players discover and install mods in-game, regardless of platform or storefront. Studios have the option to define policies and guidelines for what is permitted, and Overwolf offers moderation to ensure that the content submitted contains authorized and appropriate content. Creators can even monetize the mods that they create using CurseForge.

“This contest isn’t just an opportunity for creators and game studios to help fund their vision for new dinosaurs and incredible locales,” said Uri Marchand, CEO of Overwolf. “It’s an opportunity for players to see the incredible depth of talent that’s out there in the ARK and CurseForge modding community. We’re excited to celebrate modding through this ARKathon and empower both individual in-game creators and professional game studios to bring their original content and IP to ARK: Survival Ascended.” 

Ark: Survival Ascended's release date on consoles has fluctuated as of late, with Studio Wildcard sharing that issues were brought up during the Xbox certification process that prevented it from releasing in the second week of November. At this time there is no set date on when Ark: Survival Ascended will launch on Xbox Series X|S consoles, though the developers are hoping to expedite the certification process to meet a November launch window.

More information on how to participate in the ARKathon contest is available on CurseForge's website.

Ark: Survival Ascended | $45 on Steam

Ark: Survival Ascended | $45 on Steam

The ultimate survival game has got a fresh Unreal Engine 5 facelift, with quality-of-life improvements and cross-platform and cross-mod support.

Coming soon: Xbox | PlayStation

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.