Open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur! It’s time to jump back into the world of Ark! I managed to have a chat with Ronnie, owner of Elite Ark. This “longest running populated” unofficial server established back in August of 2015. Like many other origin stories out there, Ronnie joined various servers and was unhappy with the way they were being managed. Think admin abuse, poor settings, interrupted service or bad rules. All the reason to start his own community, and boy oh boy, it is safe to say he did pretty good! Besides wanting to learn something about the game (yes, I am one of the few who have never played ARK), I was eager to hear his story and learn about their upcoming project(s).
Hey Ronnie, thanks for doing this interview. How are things going?
Everything is going great. Beginning of the year was extremely rough with the launch of Atlas, but thankfully things have fallen into place.
What can you tell me about yourself and Elite Ark?
Back in June of 2015 I was your typical online gamer with a heavy interest in survival type of games. Ark Survival took my interest right away and was exactly what I was looking for in a survival game. After the initial launch of the official servers and playing for the first 3 months, I quickly realized that official servers weren’t for me and started EliteArk in August of 2015. Walking into it, I had ZERO experience with hosting servers, managing servers or even managing an online community. With many ups, downs and very long and sleepless days, it grew into an amazing community I am very proud of today.
Grats with the #1 rank on Arkservers.net! How did you guys manage to claim that nice spot?
Thank you! Oh man, a TON goes into being #1. First, I believe listening to your community is the true key to being successful. I have always been open to ideas and changes from my community. Second, my ability to read trends. You have to stay one step ahead and have a server that has the most popular settings meanwhile setting yourself apart from the rest. And lastly, running a fair, clean and fun server. My main rule is not allowing any admins play on any of my servers. This is highly important to me and will always remain so. Being interactive on our Discord and being involved in the community is also very important. Leaving your ego behind and simply being apart of your community goes a long way.
I noticed you both have an European and (North) American server. What made you go cross continent?
Although our North American server is strategically located to provide great pings for both North American players and European players, I felt the need to provide an even better service by opening a European server. For our Ark Survival division, it is separated by two separate locations. However on Atlas, we were able to combine both NA and EU servers to provide a complete and fluent combination of amazing pings for all to equally benefit from and enjoy.
What makes your Ark server(s) different from other ones out there?
I try and give every single person as much of my time as possible no matter who they are, how new they are or what game they play. With my amazing Admin team, we process hundreds of support tickets and private messages a week through our intricate discord support ticket system. We spend countless hours on behind the scenes work on developing private plugins, discussing latest server trends, and mapping out our future path to make the servers even better.
When visiting your website I can choose which “elite” elite community I want to browse (Ark or Rust). What can you tell us about the (upcoming) Rust server(s)?
Rust has been a game I always wanted to get into hosting a server community for. We have great plans for Rust and we are taking every necessary step to make sure when we officially launch our servers, everything will be perfect. So stay tuned!
Getting started in a new game can be challenging, even with an already active community. How are you going to approach this new adventure?
I have already been contacted by popular streamers and YouTubers that are itching at the opportunity to play on my servers. I think with our large and established player base, coupled with the exposure of streamers and YouTubers, we will have a very successful launch.
Besides the Ark servers and plans for branching out to Rust, I also noticed you have an Atlas server running. How is Atlas doing nowadays?
Hahaha. Atlas started out very strong, we are very successful, and gained many great new members to EliteArk. However, the Dev team for Atlas made some undesirable choices on various issues and settings while failing to release the needed content to keep the game afloat. I do believe, the game will revive and come back to life with future patches and EliteArk will still be here, remain active and constantly be improving the server.
With all those servers (cross different games and players, your staff might have their hands full at times. How does the staff operate with your community?
We operate 24/7, 365 days a year. I have an amazing team that in my opinion, is the best. They are the main reason our servers do so well and our community continues to grow above the rest. They have patience, experience and great insight that are vital in being a great asset. We have set guidelines and procedures in play to efficiently manage our day to day operation.
Can players apply for a spot on the staff team? If so, what’s the process?
Currently, all open applications are closed. However, when a position is open, it is posted on our Discord. We have one of the most extensive application process in my opinion. Including having to read and sign a NDA with providing proper Government Identification.
Looking at your custom automated arena’s I see a lot of work has been put it the servers. Can you tell us a bit about the development?
Development is always ongoing 24/7. I am always trying to find ways to introduce cool and new events, quality of life improvements and anything else I can think of. We offer automated events and plugins on our servers that nobody else has. I put more work into this aspect of my servers then anyone else has with the best devs in the industry and my community really benefits from it.
“Development is always ongoing 24/7. I am always trying to find ways to introduce cool and new events, quality of life improvements and anything else I can think of”
Ark, Rust and Atlas are/have been popular with content creators. Do you have some sort of policy within the community when it comes to streamers/youtubers?
All streamers and YouTubers are always welcomed on all of my servers. We do not provide any special treatment aside from discord roles.
Looking back over the years, what are some of the (personal) highlights?
Starting the Ark Survival server back in August 2015 I was happy when 2 random players joined my server. Keep in mind, at the time I had no idea what I was doing and was happy that I figured out how to even launch the server. Now, in each wipe cycle over a 1000 unique players join the server in just 2 weeks time. Our discord has grown to nearly 6,000 members and growing rapidly. So, every day, when I log into Discord or one of my servers and interact with my community. That is the highlight.
As always, do you have any tips for (starting) communities out there?
Be humble. Get rid of any ego you have. With every decision, keep your community first in mind. Have patience. Have even MORE patience. You will have to put in a lot of work, lose a lot of sleep and do it not to seek recognition, but to better your community.