Project Spark, the game creation tool by Microsoft, is being shut down according to a statement by developer Team Dakota.
The application itself was removed from both the Xbox Marketplace and the Windows Store on May 13. This means that the actual client is no longer downloadable, but current users will still be able to use it for the time being. On August 12, online services will shut down for the program, meaning content packs and updates will then no longer be available. The game itself will still be playable after the servers shut down, according to a statement from Microsoft to CommonGeek.
Project Spark originally launched in October of 2014 for $39.99. The game went to free-to-play just under a year later on Oct 5, 2015. A Microsoft spokesperson told CommonGeek that those who paid for the game between October 5, 2015 and May 13, 2016 would be eligible to apply for a refund credit of $20. These credits would be good in either the Xbox Marketplace or the Windows store and can be applied for on the Xbox website.
In the statement, Community Manager Thomas Gratz emphasized that, despite the shutdown, there have been no layoffs. Members of Team Dakota had moved on to other projects within Microsoft Studios. They eventually decided that it was “no longer feasible to continue the behind-the-scenes work involved with keeping ‘Project Spark’ up and running with meaningful updates and bug fixes.” It was described as “an extremely difficult decision.”
In the statement, Gratz also mentioned a number of milestones. The team has put out 46 content packs, 16 updates, and “thousands” of assets for game creation. Project Spark users have in turn created “hundreds of thousands” of games and programs. Many users expressed sadness in the forum post accompanying the announcement.
Project Spark was originally announced at E3 2013, and went into open beta on March 4, 2014. When it officially released later that year, it was met with good reviews. The game received an 8 out of 10 from IGN, with reviewer Mitch Dyer describing it as “an enormous amount of fun to use.” In the Microsoft Store, it received 4 stars out of 5 with over 3000 reviews. One major creation made in the program was the music video for Linkin Park’s “Guilty All The Same”. The game used to make the video was then released to users.
Update 5/16/16 at 8:22 p.m.: Article updated with statements from Microsoft regarding credits and post shut down game play.