Microsoft has removed the "beta" tag from Project Spark, a program that lets users create and share their own games.
It's now available as a free download for the Xbox One and Windows 8.1. Microsoft is also selling a boxed copy for $40 that includes $85 worth of downloadable characters, themes, games and other content.
Project Spark launched in beta six months ago, after being announced by Microsoft in 2013. It lets users design their own game worlds, create characters, and set up rules using if-then triggers. No programming knowledge is necessary, and it seems that users can create fairly complex games (including Tetris, Pinball and tower defense) with enough time and effort. Users have already created more than 70,000 game levels in the beta.
Microsoft says it will continue to work on the game after launch, with input from the community. While the game is free-to-play, users can pay to unlock content that otherwise has to be earned over time with in-game credits.
Why this matters: Project Spark is Microsoft's response to the wave of user-generated content in games like LittleBigPlanet and Minecraft. With Microsoft's recent acquisition of Minecraft maker Mojang, it now has two ambitious — but very different — creative games in its porfolio. As Microsoft makes a bigger push into ever-evolving online services, both projects should be interesting to watch over time.
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