Microsoft has released a surprise announcement that it is completely shutting down Project Spark, its free sandbox game creation game for Xbox One and Windows. The game has already been pulled from the Xbox Marketplace and Windows Store, and its online functionality will be completely shut down by August 12.
Community Manager Thomas Gratz explained on the Project Spark forums that the team made the decision to shutter the game largely because there were no longer enough people or resources to keep Project Spark maintained. According to Gratz, the reduction in staff working directly on the game occurred around the same time that it became free-to-play last year.
“This was an extremely difficult decision for our team that we do not take lightly,” Gratz said. “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.”
Gratz said that players who had already purchased a retail “Project Spark Starter Kit” will receive a full credit to their Microsoft account, and users who purchased Project Spark between October 5, 2015 and today will receive a credit that can be used to purchase content through the Xbox Marketplace or Windows Store.