An open beta test was begun in March and since then over one million PC and Xbox One owners have uploaded their own projects to the dedicated community site. The retail version of the title will be available from 7 October in the US and 10 October in Europe, priced at $39.99 and £29.99.
Described by Microsoft as a starter pack, the release will contain ready-made games and levels, as well as a range of useful sound effects and graphics animations. Users will be able to create their own games from scratch or modify the built-in content. So far beta testers have used the package's range of tools to build everything from puzzle games to racers.
Although largely successful, the beta test has not been without controversy. Project Spark uses a microtransaction model that gives players earlier access to premium tools and features if they pay with real money, rather than unlocking advanced elements gradually. The model had to be tweaked just after the launch of the beta when users complained about the time-limited access to certain game features. A "free to play" version of the game will remain available after the retail launch. Some users have complained that the Xbox One version is more tricky to use than the PC iteration with its mouse and keyboard support; others have been frustrated by a lack of documentation and guidance – though a wealth of community-made tutorials are available online and many users are now specialising in developing specific tools and features for other players.
When originally revealed at the E3 video game exhibition in 2013, developer Team Dakota also promised an Xbox 360 version, but this has not been mentioned in Microsoft's announcement this week.
The game is effectively Microsoft's answer to the hugely successful LittleBigPlanet series on PlayStation, which gives players a similarly accessible toolset for creating and sharing new content. A third title in that series is coming to PlayStation 3 and 4 in November.
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