Your chance to play with Microsoft's curious Project Spark "game" and/or creativity engine is all but done, thanks to a late-Friday announcement. An official blog post declared that the game's download and store sites had immediately been taken offline. Anybody who currently owns or plays the game has until August 12 to access the online game before its content servers are shut down as well.
The writing was already on the wall for Microsoft's peculiar free-to-play, multi-device experiment when the company announced the product's "free transition" last September. At that time, refunds were announced for any Project Spark DLC or full-license purchases made after July 28, while Microsoft declared that active development of the game had been shut down. However, that announcement hadn't hinted at an impending full-game shutdown, which means Project Spark serves as a cold reminder of how hard it will be to archive a lot of today's modern games.
Spark's troubles began with a series of confusing sales pitches at various expos alongside the burgeoning (and then Kinect-saddled) Xbox One. Marketing teams never effectively sold the possibilities and power of Spark's make-your-own-game system. While short teaser videos hinted at the game enabling everything from kart racers to airborne battles, major demonstrations tended to revolve more around generic 3D platformers. Our own game reviewer Steven Strom appreciated the product's potential but bemoaned its barriers to entry, including how the game taught users and how its search engines made discoverability a pain in the tuchus.