Microsoft’s Project Spark has failed to ignite with audiences, and it is going to be shut down later this year.
A long time ago, back in June 2013, Microsoft held an E3 conference in which they showed off their magical new Xbox One and many exciting games for it. One of the games which they promised would revolutionize the industry was something called Project Spark. At the time, it was promoted as a game creation tool, with ambitions of millions of Xbox One users creating their own games, movies, and whatnot.
I’ll be completely honest about this; up until very recently (i.e. today) I didn’t even realize Project Spark was ever released. It turns out it was, which is fantastic news. Unfortunately, the reason I learned about its existence was that Microsoft reported today that they are pulling the plug on it effective August 12th of this year. For people who currently own it, whether it be via purchase or as a free-to-play download since September of last year, you’ll still be able to play around with it in its offline mode. However, any cloud saves you may have will disappear.
The writing has been on the wall for Project Spark for some time. In their blog, Community Manager Thomas Gratz pointed out that “many of our team members moved to other projects within Microsoft Studios”, leaving this one to collect dust due to it not really taking off in any meaningful way. With that in mind, Gratz did point out that there was no lack of support in this game’s lifespan:
“Our team released 46 content packs, thousands of assets and 16 updates since launch (averaging more than one update every two months). We produced hundreds of livestreams and videos to educate and celebrate our community. In turn, our passionate fans have then gone above and beyond supporting “Project Spark” by uploading hundreds of thousands of creations and dreaming up millions of objects, behaviors, and experiences.”
It’s disappointing news for people who have enjoyed Project Spark, but one bit of a silver lining in all of this is that Microsoft has not had to lay anyone off as a result of shutting this game down. It’s a bit of a hollow victory for anyone who put a massive amount of hours into developing and supporting this project, but retaining one’s employment counts as a victory in this industry where layoffs are all too common.
[toggle title=”News \ Project Spark Sunset Announcement”]After much consideration, Microsoft and Team Dakota have decided to discontinue support for “Project Spark.” Starting 5/13/16, “Project Spark” will no longer be available for download on the Xbox Marketplace or Windows Store. For existing users of “Project Spark,” online services will be unavailable after 8/12/16. Without services, players will no longer be able to download user-generated content or upload their own creations. If you want to access user-generated content offline, you will need to download this content prior to 8/12/16. Be sure to download your favorite community creations and your own uploads if they are not saved locally. We’re also aware that after transitioning “Project Spark” to be a free incubation engine last fall, that some players might still have purchased the game at retail, and have outlined steps about obtaining a credit for those players below. This was an extremely difficult decision for our team that we do not take lightly. When “Project Spark” transitioned away from active development last fall, many of our team members moved to other projects within Microsoft Studios. While this means there have been no layoffs at Microsoft, it also means it’s simply no longer feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping “Project Spark” up and running with meaningful updates and bug fixes, so we have come to this hard decision. Despite this news, we want to celebrate the accomplishments of our team and community of creators and players. Our team released 46 content packs, thousands of assets and 16 updates since launch (averaging more than one update every two months). We produced hundreds of livestreams and videos to educate and celebrate our community. In turn, our passionate fans have then gone above and beyond supporting “Project Spark” by uploading hundreds of thousands of creations and dreaming up millions of objects, behaviors, and experiences. Outside the game, they created fan sites, tutorials, forums, apps, and more! We thank everyone who has played or created anything within “Project Spark,” as it would have never existed without you. As mentioned earlier, for players who purchased and redeemed the “Project Spark Starter Kit” sold in retail outlets will receive a credit to their Microsoft account. If you purchased and redeemed the code inside a retail copy of “Project Spark” after Oct. 5, 2015 and before today, you will receive a credit that can be used to purchase content in the Xbox or Windows store. Credits will be granted automatically to eligible customers. For more information, please visit http://xbox.com/spark. We can’t thank our creators and players enough. It’s been an incredible journey to share with you all! Thomas Gratz Community Manager Edited by user Friday, May 13, 2016 2:02:32 PM(UTC) | Reason: Not specified[/toggle]