Nintendo's Switch has been a genuine surprise - a hybrid console based on a mobile chipset that has delivered some remarkable tech showcases: the Doom 2016 port was a mini-revelation while the Wolfenstein 2 follow-up was even more mind-blowing. But these were streamlined 60fps games pared back to 30fps, and built around an eminently scalable engine - a state of affairs that doesn't fully apply to Studio Wildcard's Ark: Survival Evolved, which seems to have been dragged kicking and screaming onto the Switch hardware with some good - and some very bad - results.
Streaming video games is big business for some. Tyler "Ninja" Blevins reportedly makes $500,000 a month playing Fortnite on Twitch. But for the vast majority of streamers, barely anyone's watching, and precious few are paying. For the vast majority, streaming is a hobby. For others, it's the hope of something bigger - a bigger audience, perhaps, more views, more comments and, of course, more money.
There was a time when Digital Foundry would produce bespoke performance videos - and indeed Eurogamer articles - for virtually every major release. With so many games seemingly rushed to market, how well a particular title would run was a crucial factor in any purchasing decision. Thankfully, quality in this area is much improved across the board, but in the case of Ark: Survival Evolved, performance remains a major weakness for the game - even now, after finally emerging from Early Access.
Towards the end of 2014, Jeremy Stieglitz and Jesse Rapczak knew they wanted to make a game together. "It was just Jesse and me in the beginning. You don't set out as 'let's build a team and make a game but we don't have an idea for a game'. It was quite the opposite," Stieglitz says. The team they built would soon be known as Studio Wildcard, and even though they didn't know it yet, they were about to run one of the most successful Early Access campaigns ever for a game called Ark: Survival Evolved.
Ark: Survival Evolved - in its current, preview state - is best described as something of a technological work-in-progress in its Xbox One incarnation. By every measurable criteria Digital Foundry can attach to the game, it can often border on the disastrous. And yet, even in its early access form, Studio Wildcard has managed to shift over 1m copies, building a dedicated fanbase on both console and PC. Put simply, in this preview form, it's a triumph of concept over execution. Already a 'monster' hit, gamers have invested in the title's early access status and one of its key attractions is that users feel as though they're involved in the title's ongoing development.