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Sparkworkz
Sparkworkz Logo 2
Sparkworkz's final logo used from 2010-2015.

Owner

inXile Entertainment

URL

https://sparkworkz.com

Slogan

The best free games online! (2010-2015)

Type of Website

Gaming

Launch Date

2008-05-07

Shut Down

2015-02-03

Sparkworkz (formerly stylized SparkWorkz) was an American online web-games division of inXile Entertainment that was founded on 2008-05-07 and shut down on 2015-02-03.

History

On 2008-05-07, inXile Entertainment announced the formation of a website division titled SparkWorkz that would focus on hosting creative indie video game content and building an online community. The concept originated from inXile's success with Line Rider, with the company wanting to provide a platform where more creators could succeed.[1]

Sparkworkz Logo 1

The first Sparkworkz logo used from 2008-2010.

David Heeley, a former Microsoft executive, was named Sparkworkz's director. Brian Fargo, inXile's CEO, described the branch and the decision on Heeley as: "Our goal is to construct a highly entertaining and engaging online destination for people to show off their creative talents across a number of different game and non-game media environments... David brings a wealth of knowledge to this new role and we expect to see him build an amazing new experience for fans in the coming months."

The first game Sparkworkz acquired the rights to was Fantastic Contraption, which was released on 2008-09-07 and given an iTunes app on 2009-01-26. [2] Content was slow for a majority of the year before picking up towards the end with the release of ShapeShape[3] and Line Rider Racing[4] among others.[5][6][7] 2010 featured several large releases, including a sequel to Fantastic Contraption, Super Stacker 's PlayStation Network port[8], a Nintendo DS adaption of Alpha and Omega,[9] and an extensive expansion of their library following a redesign in October.[10]

Various outside games were ported to Sparkworkz in the first half of 2011, however besides a couple iPhone releases to already acquired games, 2011 saw a major reduction in new content. Shortly after the final batch of games were added, inXile laid off most of Sparkworkz's employees, leaving only enough crew to maintain the website's servers.[11] No further content was acquired or created for the remainder of Sparkworkz's existence, with inXile deciding to permanently close the business on 2015-02-03 after continued declining revenue and moving several exclusive games elsewhere. Visiting the website now redirects the visitor to a bulletin explaining the shut down.

Sparkworkz - Closure Announcement

Announcement explaining Sparkworkz's closure.

Platform Racing 3

Sparkworkz released a press release on 2010-03-22 that revealed the company had been collaborating with Jacob Grahn for an undefined period of time to develop the newest Platform Racing installment, Platform Racing 3.[12] While Jiggmin would write the game's code, Sparkworkz would focus on its art, receive exclusive hosting rights, and rights to the series as a whole. Jiggmin confirmed the news himself in a blog post containing a link to Sparkworkz on his website the next day.[13]

A preview of the game containing the level editor was released on 2010-06-02, along side a contest that closed at the end of the month for players to create their best course and get it on the campaign.[14][15] A closed beta was posted a couple weeks later exclusive to invitees to test the servers and work out bugs before the full release. An open beta was then uploaded on 2010-07-08 and the game continued to receive regular updates for the remainder of the year along with several in 2011, though it was never fully completed.

Controversy

Sparkworkz has been extremely controversial within the Platform Racing community for much of Platform Racing 3 's existence. Shortly after the game was released, users began experiencing lag issues due to the heavy amount of advertisements featured on its main page that could only be removed by donating money to Sparkworkz or going to the game's file directly, whereas other websites Jiggmin published games on in the past typically only played a single ad before the game loaded and disappeared afterwards.

In early 2011, however, Sparkworkz suddenly began to constantly experience extensive downtime, only coming online for a few minutes before going down again rendering the game largely unplayable.[16] While the multiplayer servers were hosted by Jiggmin himself, levels and blocks were hosted directly on Sparkworkz, leaving players who were able to load and login to the game unable to play or edit anything.

Shortly after Platform Racing 3 's final 2011-05-20 update, inXile Entertainment laid off a majority of Sparkworkz's employees, including the person who published new builds, leaving Jiggmin unable to update the game entirely.[17] Only a few staff were left to maintain the website afterwards, resulting in more frequent and longer downtimes that made accessing it nearly impossible, ultimately dwindling Platform Racing 3 's and Sparkworkz's userbase as a whole to nearly nothing less than a year later.

Sometime between then and 2013-05-27, inXile and Jiggmin contacted each other about the game's and series as a whole's status. The two came to an agreement that the series rights would be returned to Jiggmin and Platform Racing 3 could be released elsewhere if all Sparkworkz assets were removed.[18] A project briefly sprung up for this, though it never materialized.

While the servers eventually stabilized after a couple years, Sparkworkz already suffered from revenue loss because of their frequent downtimes, leading to inXile's decision to shut Sparkworkz down on 2015-02-03. While most of their games were moved to other platforms, Platform Racing 3 was excluded as it was not profitable and hosting its custom blocks required too much upkeep in server costs.

Other Sponsored Games

Layouts

1.0

Sparkworkz - Homepage 2009-2010

Seen from 2009 to 2010.

2.0

Sparkworkz - Homepage 2010

Seen in 2010.

3.0

Sparkworkz - Homepage 2010 2012-2015

Seen in late 2010 and from 2012 until the site's closure.

Sparkworkz - Homepage 2010-2011

Variant showcasing Fantastic Contraption 2's mobile app.

Sparkworkz - Homepage 2011

Variant showcasing Line Rider's mobile app.

Sparkworkz - Homepage 2011-2012

Variant showcasing Platform Racing 3's mobile app.

References

  1. http://web.archive.org/web/20080512123149/http://www.sparkworkz.com/
  2. http://web.archive.org/web/20090411032005/http://www.sparkworkz.com/01-26-09.php
  3. http://web.archive.org/web/20091023043203/http://www.sparkworkz.com/pressreleases/SS_091409.php
  4. http://web.archive.org/web/20100104220710/http://sparkworkz.com/pressreleases/LRC_111209.php
  5. http://web.archive.org/web/20091024052731/http://www.sparkworkz.com/pressreleases/SS2_100809.php
  6. http://web.archive.org/web/20100104220813/http://sparkworkz.com/pressreleases/LR_102209.php
  7. http://web.archive.org/web/20100105050550/http://www.sparkworkz.com/pressreleases/IQ_103009.php
  8. http://web.archive.org/web/20100804030503/http://www.sparkworkz.com/2010/05/25/sparkworkz-launches-super-stacker%E2%84%A2-onto-the-sony-playstation%C2%AEnetwork/
  9. http://web.archive.org/web/20100925172425/http://www.sparkworkz.com/2010/09/sparkworkz-teams-up-with-lionsgate%C2%AE-and-their-new-3-d-animated-feature-alpha-and-omega/
  10. http://web.archive.org/web/20101017184526/http://www.sparkworkz.com/?
  11. http://forums.acidch.at/showthread.php?tid=115&pid=3036#pid3036
  12. http://web.archive.org/web/20130601114354/http://www.sparkworkz.com/2010/03/inxile%E2%80%99s-sparkworkz%E2%84%A2-announces-the-next-installment-in-the-hit-flash-series-platform-racing%E2%84%A2/
  13. http://web.archive.org/web/20100808193125/http://jiggmin.com/forum/blog.php?b=10916
  14. http://web.archive.org/web/20110227212945/http://jiggmin.com/blogs/1-Jiggmin?s=07fec2292e0e841088f7149e77fc43a9&tag=wish+you+were+here
  15. http://web.archive.org/web/20110227212933/http://jiggmin.com/blogs/1-Jiggmin?s=07fec2292e0e841088f7149e77fc43a9&tag=agentms11+was+heeere%21%21%21%21
  16. http://web.archive.org/web/20110315100905/http://jiggmin.com/forums/26-Platform-Racing-3? "Sparkworkz's Server Failures"
  17. http://forums.acidch.at/showthread.php?tid=115&pid=3036#pid3036
  18. https://forums.inxile-entertainment.com/viewtopic.php?p=69981#p69981

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