On Friday, Microsoft and developer Team Dakota pulled the plug on their game-making tool for Xbox One and Windows PC, Project Spark. According a late-Friday announcement, it won’t be available for download from the Xbox Store or Windows Store after today, May 13.
An update posted to the Project Spark forums reads that online services will be available until Aug. 12. The update will include the ability to download and upload user-generated content. After that, access to the online game and its content servers will be shut down as well.
Last September, by the time Microsoft had announced the product’s ‘free transition’, the writing was already on the wall for the company’s peculiar free-to-play, multi-device experiment. Microsoft declared the active development of the game had been cancelled. Meanwhile, refunds were announced for any Project Spark DLC or full-license purchases made after July 28. Still, hat announcement hadn’t hinted at an impending full-game shutdown.
In a statement, Team Dakota’s community manager Thomas Gratz said that this was a really hard decision to make for the team. He assured they are not taking it 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,” Gratz claimed.
— Project Spark (@proj_spark) May 13, 2016
Why did Sparks failed?
Spark started to have problems after a series of confusing sales pitches at various expos alongside the burgeoning (and then Kinect-saddled) Xbox One. The idea of the possibilities and power of Spark’s make-your-own-game system could never be successfully sold by marketing teams.
Spark’s short teaser video hinted at the game everything from kart racers to airborne battles, but the biggest demonstrations tended to be all about generic 3D platformers. Steven Strom, game reviewer from arstechnica.com, recognized Spark’s potential but criticized its barriers to entry, including how the game taught users and how its search engines made discoverability a very difficult process.
Player who purchased a retail copy of Project Spark will receive a credit that can be used in the Xbox or Windows Store. The game-making tool was designed to allow game developers to create whatever they want, then share it and play those homemade games with the community.
— Game Informer (@gameinformer) May 13, 2016
Source: Ars Technica