Lost Ark enjoyed a historically strong launch when it was released in mid-February, exploding to the top of the charts on Steam, Twitch, and other platforms. It has since leveled off somewhat, but that doesn’t make its initial surge any less impressive. As of this article, it’s sitting at a cool 134k viewers on Twitch, topped only by Grand Theft Auto 5 and the newly-released Elden Ring.
Speaking via email, Amazon Games franchise leader Soomin Park spoke of the team’s amazement at its reception, calling it a “labor of love.”
“The development teams at both Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG are absolutely shocked and thrilled by the reception of Lost Ark since launching in the West,” Park said. “To say the teams at both studios have been amazed by the response would be a huge understatement!”
Originally released in South Korea in 2019, Lost Ark has developed a strong following thanks to its attractive art, enjoyable combat, and large amount of content. In IGN’s review of Lost Ark, we wrote, “Lost Ark takes a genuinely impressive stab at the isometric action RPG genre, and its integration into a perpetually online world is complementary rather than invasive. It’s expansive and deep, capable of scratching the itch for a new Diablo-like action RPG that is filled with other players to meet and team up with.”
When Lost Ark released in North America last month, it became the second-highest played game in Steam history with 1.3 million concurrent players in less than 24 hours, an achievement that Park says was “definitely unexpected.”
The crush of players has forced Smilegate and Amazon Games to scramble to upgrade its server infrastructure, including adding an entirely new region. According to Park, the Europe Central region “continues to be filled to the brim,” leading to “player queues and some instability in the region.”
And it’s not as easy as simply adding more servers.
“It’s important to note that Lost Ark has a limit to how many peak concurrent players it can support in any one universe, or region, which is why we cannot simply add more servers to Europe Central,” Park explained. “There’s theoretically unlimited [Amazon Web Services] capacity in each ‘region,’ but the game can become unstable if it tries to scale past its maximum capacity per region.”
Keeping up Lost Ark’s momentum
Either way, Lost Ark is plunging ahead. Talking about what to expect in the future, Park promised a variety of new classes, continents, and other content. The Lost Ark team sees such additions as the antidote for the inevitable dropoff of interest that follows a service game’s launch.
“It is true most live service games experience an ebb and flow of interest as the competitive landscape evolves and player interests change, but usually the best way to keep players engaged is a strong, predictable live game roadmap that is in response to player feedback,” Park said. Lost Ark’s is robust with a steady addition of new classes, continents, events, activities, and more.”
New World, the other breakout online game from Amazon Games, is in some ways a cautionary tale in some ways for Lost Ark. While it enjoyed massive success at launch, its momentum was sapped by bugs and other critical issues, forcing the development team to apologize to the community.
Lost Ark, for its part, is more established than New World, having had more than two years to build up its foundation.
“[Early release in Korea] helped in many ways,” Park said. “Lost Ark benefits from having years of player feedback and polish from the team at Smilegate and being live in other parts of the world for a few years. It’s a finely-tuned game, and therefore Amazon Games could focus its efforts on Westernization and enhancements that would ensure players in the west felt at home.”
Most of the discourse among fans has revolved around the intensity of its grind or whether the endgame difficulty needs to be updated. Oh yes, and memes. Lots of memes. In short, Lost Ark is following the trajectory of most online games. Earlier today, Lost Ark released its March update, which includes new story and endgame content.
Time will tell whether it can keep a steady and healthy playerbase, but close to a month after its original release, it seems to be more stable than many of its counterparts. That’s a win for Amazon Game Studios, which has battled lengthy development cycles, cancellations, and other issues in its decade or so of existence.
If you’re just getting started with Lost Ark, you can find some helpful beginner’s tips and tricks here. Make sure to also check out our list of the Top 10 MMORPGs, which includes heavy-hitters like Final Fantasy 14. Lost Ark is available now on PC, with no current plans to release on console.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN
Source: IGN Video Games All