Windows Phone Store market expansion and new game ratings

UPDATE 12/13: As my colleague Mazhar notes today, the web Store is now live in 37 new locations around the world. With these additions, customers can browse and buy apps on our website in a total of 112 markets worldwide (see the full list here). The web outlet complements the phone Store experience, which is now available in 191 markets worldwide. And we’re continuing to work to bring the Store to more places. Note that five markets I mentioned below—Bahrain, Bolivia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and United Arab Emirates—were temporarily delayed. We’re working to get those online as soon as possible.


Today we are beginning to roll out the latest in the series of regular updates to the Windows Phone Dev Center and the Windows Phone Store. These updates are designed to address issues that you have identified, as well as to add small feature enhancements and reflect new country-specific policies.

On tap for this wave of updates are several behind-the-scenes changes designed to help further improve the reliability and performance of the Dev Center, in addition to the app submission process. Two big changes to note are: 1) Expansion of the Windows Phone Store in 42 new markets, and 2) The addition of new ratings requirements for games made available to users in Taiwan and Russia.

Windows Phone Store available in 42 new markets
We are continuing the roll out of our online Store. Next week we will bring the Store to customers in 42 additional markets: Angola, Armenia, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo (DRC), Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guinea, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Pakistan, Paraguay, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

If you haven’t already returned to the Dev Center to choose worldwide distribution of your app, you’ll want to do so now to maximize your reach to these new markets and customers, in which a variety of new Windows Phones have or will soon be released. With the 42 new markets, Windows Phone Store is now available online to customers in 113 markets worldwide.

New ratings requirements for games published in Taiwan and Russia
In response to new regulatory requirements in Taiwan and Russia, games published in these markets must now be accompanied by local game ratings:

Taiwan: The new Taiwan game rating system, Computer Software Rating Regulation (CSSR), requires that all new games or updates to existing games made available to Windows Phone users in Taiwan must have a valid CSSR rating starting on January 1, 2013. Developers must complete the CSSR self-rating process for each game, and then submit the resulting rating certificate through the Dev Center with all new games submissions and updates. The Windows Phone operations team is reaching out to developers who already have games published in Taiwan to provide instructions and timing requirements for revisions.

Russia: Previously, Pan European Game Information (PEGI) ratings and rating certificates were optional for games made available to Windows Phone users in Russia. Going forward, any new game or game update that targets the Russia market requires a PEGI rating and a rating certificate prior to certification. Acquiring PEGI ratings and certificates is a simple process; guidance is available through the PEGI Express self-service tool. Russia plans to adopt a new games rating system in the near future, and we will make adjustments to comply with the new local requirements.

You’ll find up-to-date info on required game ratings for all markets on MSDN.

Other noteworthy changes

Also new in this update is the ability to add a privacy URL. With ever-increasing attention to app privacy practices, we encourage you to have an adequate privacy notice in place. By adding a link to your privacy notice, we can surface this important information in the Windows Phone Store for review by users prior to downloading your app.

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We have also added the ability to validate beta tester email addresses as part of the submission process. This should help minimize errors and delays in the submission process.

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Finally, we have decreased the keyword field length to 30 characters to keep the keywords focused on those that best describe your app and to deliver the most accurate search results. You’ll want to check out an earlier blog post for more on keyword requirements.

You can expect the next wave of regular updates in January. Please keep the feedback coming. We’re listening.