Microsoft has announced it is shutting down Project Sark, a 3D game-development tool. The development tool was an easy-to-use addition to its corporate gaming tools. During Project Spark, new Conker levels were released, which is how most people were impacted by the tools on the gamer level. However, it did launch with an incredibly pricey model. The cool factor Microsoft was hoping for was not enough to make a difference – at least not a big enough difference to make it profitable. Last fall the company said Project Spark would be “transitioned away from active development.” That announcement was pretty much the writing on the wall for Project Spark, although Microsoft was loathe to admit it at the time.
Now Microsoft has come out with the news that Project Spark will soon be no more. It has already been removed from the Xbox Marketplace and Windows Store. In its official statement, Microsoft said it is proud of the 46 packets and numerous updates they released under the Project Spark banner.
Those who have already shelled out big bucks for the platform have some time to get organized before Microsoft deletes everything entirely. This is bound to be a frustration for anyone who has already invested the time and energy to make great games for the Project Spark platform. Microsoft has not released substantive details about what it plans to do about the games users have created. So far we expect that those who created games can still go through with development with the aim of playing them offline. However, this is a limited version of what was originally promised, since no developer wants to play games alone without sharing them.
Thankfully for Microsoft’s employees, the company confirmed that there haven’t been any layoffs due to the end of Project Spark. Microsoft said “many of our team members moved to other projects within Microsoft Studios” last fall when the company stopped developing and investing in the platform.
There is no doubt that some people will want their money back, and Microsoft has offered a refund, but only in the terms of Xbox and Windows Store credits rather than cold hard cash. However, the refund has some conditions. It only applies if you bought the Project Spark Start Kit after October 5, 2015.
Microsoft’s official release says
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.
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.