ARK: Survival Evolved is a hugely popular open world survival game developed by Studio Wildcard that was first released in early access on Steam in 2015. Since then, it has grown into a massive game with tons of content including expansions, mods, and regular free updates.
In June 2022, ARK went free on Steam for a limited time to promote the upcoming sequel ARK 2 which was revealed at the Xbox & Bethesda Showcase. This article will provide details on how long ARK is free on Steam, what content is included, and other ways to get ARK for free on PC.
Why is ARK Free on Steam?
ARK went free on Steam from June 14th to June 19th 2022 as part of a promotion by Studio Wildcard for the newly announced ARK 2. The developer is giving away copies of the original ARK game to get more players into the franchise and build hype for the sequel releasing in 2023.
This is similar to what Epic Games does by offering free games each week to attract more users to the Epic Games Store. It‘s a great way for the developer to get more eyes on their game and potentially gain long-term players who may purchase DLCs or the sequel.
How Long is ARK Free on Steam?
The ARK free promotion on Steam ran for 6 days from June 14th at 6PM PT until June 19th at 8PM PT. During this period, players could claim a free copy of ARK to keep permanently in their Steam library.
If you missed the promotion window, unfortunately ARK is no longer available for free. However, the base game still frequently goes on sale for as low as $10 so you can grab it at a discount.
Here are the key dates for the ARK free promotion on Steam:
- Start: June 14th, 2022 at 6PM PT
- End: June 19th, 2022 at 8PM PT
- Duration: 6 days
So in summary, ARK was free on Steam for just under a week in June 2022. It is no longer free, but you can wishlist it on Steam to be notified of future promotions or sales.
What Content is Included for Free?
The free version of ARK on Steam during the promotion included the base game with the Island map. This is the original ARK map and provides hundreds of hours of content.
In addition, Studio Wildcard made all ARK DLC free on Steam during the promotion period. This included major expansion maps like Scorched Earth, Aberration, Extinction, and Genesis Parts 1 & 2.
So new players were able to get a ton of content for free to get a great sampling of everything ARK has to offer. Here are all the DLCs that were free on Steam for a limited time:
- Scorched Earth
- Genesis Season Pass (Part 1 & 2)
- Other minor DLCs
The only ARK content not free during the promotion was the Ultimate Survivor Edition bundle. But you still got the base game, Genesis Season Pass, and 3 major expansions for free which is an incredible amount of content.
Is ARK Still Free? How to Get it for Free
Now that the Steam promotion is over, ARK is no longer free to keep on that platform. However, you can still sometimes find ARK available for free legally through other PC platforms.
Here are a few options to grab ARK for free right now:
Epic Games Store: ARK goes free on EGS periodically, so add it to your wishlist. It was last available for free in September 2022.
Amazon Prime Gaming: ARK has been a free Prime Gaming reward in the past, so link your Amazon account and keep an eye out for it to return.
NVIDIA GeForce NOW: Play ARK for 1 hour sessions free via cloud streaming through GeForce NOW if you own it on another platform.
Xbox Game Pass: ARK is included with Game Pass for PC/console, which you can try for just $1.
So while the Steam promotion has ended, be sure to watch out for ARK on other PC platforms for additional chances to get the game for free.
What are the PC Requirements for ARK?
ARK: Survival Evolved is a demanding game, especially if you want to play with high graphics settings. Before you download, make sure your PC meets the minimum and recommended system requirements:
- OS: Windows 7/8.1/10 (64-bit versions)
- Processor: Intel Core i5-2400/AMD FX-8320 or better
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Storage: 60 GB free space
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 670 2GB/AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB or better
- OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-3770/AMD FX-9590 or better
- Memory: 16 GB RAM
- Storage: 100 GB free space
- GPU: NVIDIA GTX 980/AMD Radeon R9 290X or better
Be aware that ARK is poorly optimized so you may need much stronger hardware for smooth 60 fps gameplay on high settings, especially if playing on multiplayer servers.
How Big is ARK with all DLCs Installed?
The base ARK game without any DLCs takes up around 60-70GB of drive space. This includes just the Island map.
If you want all the free and paid DLCs included, the install size grows drastically to approximately 275GB according to most estimates. This includes all the major expansions and content updates.
Here‘s a rough breakdown of install sizes for ARK content:
- Base Game: 60 GB
- Scorched Earth: 10 GB
- Aberration: 15 GB
- Extinction: 20 GB
- Genesis Season Pass: 40 GB each (80 GB total)
- Other small DLCs: ~10 GB
- Total: ~275 GB
So be aware ARK takes up a huge amount of disk space, especially if you want access to all the content. Have at least 275 GB free before installing.
Is ARK Cross-Platform with PlayStation and Xbox?
ARK does offer cross-platform play between Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and Windows 10 PCs. So if you have friends playing ARK on Xbox, you can join them from PC.
However, ARK does NOT support any form of crossplay with PlayStation consoles due to the platform restrictions from Sony. So PS4 and PS5 players cannot play on servers with those on PC and Xbox.
But Xbox and PC owners can enjoy ARK together on the same servers, which is great if you have a tribe across multiple platforms. And any progress carries over linked to your Xbox Live account.
Review of ARK: Survival Evolved
Now that we‘ve covered the basics, let‘s briefly review ARK itself for those unfamiliar with the game. Here‘s an overview of the core gameplay and why it‘s so popular:
ARK throws you into a massive open world island filled with dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. You start off naked and alone, and must hunt, harvest, craft and build to survive.
Key gameplay elements include:
- Harvest resources to craft weapons, armor, bases and items
- Tame and breed over 80 dinosaurs and animals
- Level up your character with RPG-style skill trees
- Explore a huge diverse landscape with mountains, jungles, caves and more
- Join a tribe for group play and giant base building
- Take part in epic boss fights against towering beasts
- Experience day/night cycles and dynamic weather effects
- Install total conversion mods or customize your own ARK server
There is SO much to see and do in ARK‘s expansive primordial island. You can play solo locally, join official online servers or create your own hosted sessions. The gameplay is truly endless.
Why It‘s so Popular
Here are some key reasons ARK became such a breakout hit:
- Dinosaurs: Who doesn‘t love taming and riding around on dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures? It‘s a very unique concept.
- Progression: Levelling up yourself and tamed dinos is very addicting and gives a great sense of progression.
- Crafting: Vast crafting system lets you make everything from primitive stone tools to futuristic sci-fi gear.
- Building: Building huge bases with a massive library of structures and parts sparks the imagination.
- Multiplayer: Joining group Tribes massively expands the social gameplay.
- Mod Support: Robust Steam Workshop mod support gives you endless ways to customize ARK.
- Developer Support: Studio Wildcard has continuously updated ARK with new content and improvements.
Overall, ARK offers an incredible dinosaur survival experience you can‘t find anywhere else. No wonder it gained such an enthusiastic player base.
In summary, ARK is easily one of the most fun, addictive and content-rich survival games on the market. The vast size combined with endless progression, dino taming and multiplayer tribing gives insane replay value.
However, it‘s held back by disappointing optimization issues even on strong hardware. But if your PC can run it smoothly, nothing else truly compares to the ARK formula. 8/10
Will ARK 2 also be Free on Steam?
ARK 2 was unveiled at the June 2022 Xbox & Bethesda showcase with a planned 2023 release window. It is currently only confirmed for Xbox Series X/S and PC, with no PS5 version announced yet.
The sequel looks to deliver a major visual overhaul with more advanced graphics, new creatures, and an enhanced gameplay experience. Vin Diesel was also revealed as one of the characters.
As of now, Studio Wildcard has not indicated if ARK 2 will also be free on Steam around launch like the original was. The free promotion for the first game was likely a one-time thing to celebrate ARK 2‘s announcement.
However, it‘s possible the developer could run another promotion upon ARK 2‘s full launch on consoles and PC. We‘ll have to wait for official details as the release date approaches.
I would not expect ARK 2 to be permanently free though. It will likely launch at full $60 price. But look out for potential limited time free giveaways around release to boost the player base like many other new games do today.
ARK going free on Steam for a limited time was an awesome promotion by Studio Wildcard. Players got to experience the full base game and all DLC for free leading up to ARK 2‘s announcement.
If you missed the promotion, keep watch for ARK on other PC platforms like Epic Games Store or Amazon Prime Gaming where it sometimes goes free. And catch it on sale for cheap.
ARK remains one of the most fun and engaging survival games out there, especially for dinosaur lovers. With continuous expansions and mods, you can easily sink hundreds of hours into it.
Now the countdown begins for ARK 2 in 2023 which promises to take the formula to the next level with cutting-edge graphics and new features. Let‘s hope Studio Wildcard continues their generous free promotions when the anticipated sequel finally arrives.