One of the more intriguing things to come out Microsoft's gaming efforts in the recent years is Project Spark. It let users make their own games on Windows PCs and the Xbox One. The business model it followed was free with micro-transactions, allowing users to enhance and customise their experience. The team behind it announced it will pivot to "a free and open creation platform" last year. Now Microsoft has announced that it is killing off Project Spark altogether.
"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," a post by Project Spark's Community Manager Thomas Gratz on the game's official forum reads. "Be sure to download your favourite community creations and your own uploads if they are not saved locally."
In the light of this news, one would assume there would be lay-offs at the studio. But Gratz confirms this is not the case.
"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," his post continues.
With 46 content packs, thousands of assets and 16 updates since launch, Project Spark was one of the better supported games from Microsoft. But the abrupt nature of pivoting its business model makes us think that we'll be seeing a lot more games that will be inaccessible the moment the companies behind it decide it stops making financial sense, leaving customers with no access to something they've paid for, one of the biggest drawbacks of having an online, microtransaction-based component to any video game.