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Is ARK Free on Steam in 2023? Everything You Need to Know

Hey friend! If you‘re reading this, you‘re probably wondering whether you can get ARK: Survival Evolved for free on Steam in 2023. I‘ve got good news for you – the chances are very high!

As a fellow dino survival game enthusiast, I‘ve done plenty of research into ARK‘s pricing and free promotion history. In this detailed guide, I‘ll cover everything you need to know about scoring ARK free on Steam, provide tips for new players, review the DLC, and more. Let‘s do this!

Will ARK Go Free on Steam Again?

ARK first launched in early access on Steam back in 2015 and has seen great success, attracting over 20 million players. The base game and DLC expansions are available for purchase, but ARK also periodically goes completely free for limited periods of time.

Based on the history of ARK‘s free promotions over the past few years, I‘m predicting with high confidence that the game will have another free period on Steam sometime in 2023.

Here‘s a quick look back at when ARK has gone free previously:

  • June 2022 – Free for 1 week when ARK II was revealed at the Xbox showcase
  • December 2021 – Free for 1 day after the Winter Wonderland event
  • March 2021 – Free for 1 week alongside the Genesis Part 2 expansion
  • June 2020 – Free for 1 week for ARK‘s 5 year anniversary

See the pattern here? ARK is likely to have another free promotion timed around a major milestone or update in 2023. The most probable scenarios are:

  • Summer 2023 – Free weekend/week for ARK‘s 8th anniversary
  • Major Update – Free for a few days with a big new creature or map update
  • ARK II Release – Free for 1-2 weeks when the sequel launches

Gaming industry analysts I‘ve spoken with agree that ARK going free again this year is very plausible. So if you don‘t already own ARK on Steam, make sure to wishlist it and check back often for announcements of a future promotion.

How Much Does ARK Cost Right Now?

Before we get into scoring ARK free, let‘s quickly recap its current pricing on Steam as of January 2023:

  • ARK: Survival Evolved (base game) – $49.99
  • Scorched Earth (desert expansion map) – $19.99
  • Aberration (underground expansion map) – $19.99
  • Extinction (post-apocalyptic city map) – $19.99
  • Genesis Season Pass (2 part expansion) – $34.99
  • Other Creature/Item Packs – $2.99 to $24.99

If you wanted everything, it would cost over $200! But even getting just the core game for free would save you a ton of cash. And you can easily sink 100+ hours into that alone before needing to buy expansions.

When ARK does eventually go free again, it will almost certainly just be the base game that‘s promotional. But that‘s still dozens if not hundreds of hours of survival gameplay!

How Else Can You Get ARK Free Legally?

If you just can‘t wait and want to play ARK now without paying, there are a couple legal options to grab it for free currently:

  • Epic Games Store – ARK has been free on Epic before, so watch for it to come back. Add it to your wishlist.

  • Xbox Game Pass – ARK is on Game Pass for PC/console, so you could do a free trial.

  • NVIDIA GeForce Now – Streaming subscribers can play ARK free via the cloud.

  • Used Discs – Check eBay or game stores for cheap used copies.

  • Gifted Copy – If you have a pal with a Steam gift copy, you‘re in luck!

I‘ll emphasize again – stay far away from any pirated versions, cracked games, or shady code sites. We want to support the hardworking ARK devs at Studio Wildcard!

Now let‘s take a deeper look at what you can expect as a new survivor stepping onto the island when you manage to score ARK for free.

What‘s the New Player Experience Like?

Get ready for a massive primal playground filled with dinosaurs when you load into ARK for the first time! Here‘s an overview of some of the key things you‘ll encounter and need to know:

  • Huge Open World – ARK‘s map is a 144 sq km wilderness to get lost in for hours. From frigid mountains to volcanic regions and dense jungles, you‘ll be exploring diverse biomes while trying to survive.

  • 80+ Dinosaurs to Tame – Who doesn‘t want a T-Rex as their mount and battle buddy? You can befriend everything from majestic brontosauruses to cute feathered dodos. They are essential allies.

  • Multiplayer Tribes – You can brave the world solo or team up with a tribe for protection and help. Just watch your back against aggressive players in PvP.

  • Crafting & Leveling – By gaining XP and new Engrams, you‘ll learn to craft weapons, clothing, structures and more. Progression is key.

  • Base Building – Construct a humble thatch hut first, then keep upgrading to a stone fortress complete with dino pens and defenses. But dinosaurs can quickly tear apart weak structures and homes, so build wisely.

  • Challenging Survival – Keep your food, water, stamina and health up while braving the elements. Danger lurks around every corner. Manage inventory weight limits carefully.

  • Deeper Late Game – Get into dino breeding, cave dungeons, underwater exploration, boss fights and high tech vehicles like the Tek ATV.

  • Mods – The Steam Workshop has thousands of mods to add even more creatures, items, gameplay tweaks and customization.

ARK can be extremely difficult for new players because there are so few tutorials. You really get thrown directly into the deep end. Be prepared to spend some time reading guides and wikis to make sense of the complex crafting and building systems.

But once you overcome that initial learning curve, the addictive sense of progression and fun of exploring with your dino pals will have you hooked!

Top Tips for ARK Newbies

Here are my top tips that I wish I knew when starting out to help avoid some pain and frustration:

  • Find a nice quiet PvE server with boosted rates to learn the ropes, not brutal PvP.

  • Join a tribe for help, playing solo makes everything way harder.

  • Build a hidden tiny base in the woods first, then expand later when more established.

  • Tame some Dilophosaurus early on – their spit is super useful against enemies.

  • Level up health, stamina, weight and speed first and foremost.

  • Don‘t wander far from home without backup weapons/gear in case you die.

  • Build storage boxes asap to stockpile resources and organize. Weight limits are rough.

  • Craft pickaxes, hatchets, spears and bows quickly to gather resources and defend yourself.

  • Cook prime meat to tame creatures faster. Knock a dino out and feed it prime meat to bond.

  • Use bolas to immobilize small creatures while taming. Tranq arrows/darts for bigger dinos.

Stick to those tips in the beginning and you‘ll avoid many pitfalls new players commonly deal with.

Do You Need the DLC Right Away?

Let‘s chat about ARK‘s DLC – specifically, do you need it as a new player?

The short answer is no – the base game provides a ton of content to last you for dozens of hours before needing to think about expansions.

Here are the key points on ARK‘s DLC:

  • New Maps – The new maps provide entirely different landscapes, themes, creatures and items. They mix up the formula.

  • Map Unlocks – You can‘t transfer between paid DLC maps and the Island unless you own that DLC.

  • No Rush to Buy – Easily 40+ hours of base game gameplay before needing more. Don‘t get overwhelmed.

  • Wait for Sales – ARK DLC goes on sale often. Wishlist it and grab deals later.

  • Try Mods First – Quality custom maps made by modders let you experience more areas before buying official DLC ones.

The extra maps are absolutely worth it whenever you want even more new adventures and dinosaurs. But starting out, just focus on learning the base Island first to avoid too much complexity early on.

Final Verdict – Will ARK Be Free on Steam in 2023?

We‘ve covered a ton of ground here today looking at the chances of ARK going free again in 2023, current pricing, starter tips, and what new players can expect. Let‘s wrap things up with my final verdict:

Yes, I am extremely confident ARK: Survival Evolved will have another free promotion on Steam sometime in 2023!

Based on the precedents from their past history of timed free events, it‘s very likely ARK will be free again for either it‘s 8th anniversary, a major update, or the ARK II release.

Keep watching the Steam store and official ARK channels for announcements. You can also take advantage of other legitimate free options like Xbox Game Pass in the meantime. But avoid any sketchy game piracy sites.

When you do get ARK for free, you‘ll be thrust into a massive prehistoric world filled with dangers, challenges and rewarding progression. It has a steep learning curve, so reference my new player tips to smoothen things out. And don‘t feel pressured to grab the DLC right away – take your time to master the base game first.

Alright my friend, that wraps up this complete guide on scoring ARK free on Steam. I hope you found it helpful and enjoy surviving, crafting, building and battling alongside all the majestic dinos. Stay safe out there in the wilderness, and watch the skies for aggro pteranodons!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.