Microsoft said tonight that it will transition Project Spark from a free-to-play microtransaction game to a “free and open creation engine.”
Starting on October 5, Project Spark will be freely available to players who want to use it to create games. That means Microsoft will automatically unlock previously paid downloadable content for new and existing Project Spark users. Microsoft will pivot from producing downloadable content (DLC) to encouraging more user-generated content and opening up the Project Spark experience.
The change is a new twist in user-generated content, and it is not unexpected given that Microsoft bought Mojang, the maker of sandbox game Minecraft, for $2.5 billion a year ago.
“Project Spark’s goal has always been to empower creativity. We’ve been an incubation engine for ideas from epic to artistic, and we plan to continue doing so,” said Rahul Sandil, the head of Project Spark acquisition/engagement, in a statement. “Project Spark inspires and empowers over 200,000 creators, who have shared tens of millions of custom objects, behaviors, and experiences. Every day, we see anywhere between 300 and 400 new games being uploaded on our platform. Our support of these creators and our communications with them will continue in an open, free, and collaborative environment.”
Sandil will be a speaker on a breakout session on “The Future of User-Generated Content” at our upcoming GamesBeat 2015 conference in San Francisco on October 12-13.
In light of these changes to a fully free model, all players who have purchased Project Spark digital content on or after July 28, 2015, purchased and activated retail discs on or after July 28, 2015, or have a remainder balance of purchased in-game tokens will be entitled to Microsoft Store credit equivalent to their money spent. Microsoft Store credits will be awarded to all users within 30-60 days after October 5.
Here are some other developments to come, starting October 5:
- The maximum terrain limit in creations has been doubled
- The maximum prop limit in creations has been increased by 500
- 200+ new assets have been added in-game, including a dragon, goblin warlord, bog biome, and a set of new primitive building blocks
- Each creator will now have a total of 100 Upload Slots for their creations
- UGC ranking will be based on downloads and favorites instead of upvote/downvote ratings
- The Project Spark Marketplace has been removed
- The Project Spark Tour and Treasure Trove have been removed
- Achievements have been revamped for players and creators
For more details and information on this announcement, users can join in the conversation on the Project Spark forums.