Microsoft's Project Spark game creation tool has embraced the free-to-play model for a while, but that has still meant paying a fair chunk of change to build the experience you really want. However, even that cost is going away soon. As of an October 5th update, Project Spark is switching to a completely free model where all downloadable content will be accessible. You'll get refunds if you bought either content or a retail disc from July 28th onward. Microsoft is also handing over the keys, in a manner of speaking -- rather than focus on adding content and features, it'll spend more time on highlighting user-made material and opening things up.
It's understandable if you're worried about the shift in strategy. After all, it comes across as an attempt to wind down Project Spark without alienating its community. That isn't helped by plans to cancel a Conker-related story as a result of the switch. However, the development team insists that this isn't the end. There are over 200,000 active creators that it doesn't want to abandon, and there are "new programs and activities" in the works to keep those numbers growing. That's somewhat reassuring, but there's no denying that Microsoft has one less incentive to support its oftentimes rewarding game production tool.