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We heard you.
Minesweeper, the ad-supported Xbox LIVE game we debuted in the U.S. Marketplace recently, is launching as a free download around the world (except Brazil and Korea). The title, which for now is English only, should be available by early tomorrow morning in your local Marketplace.
It’s no secret that two weeks ago when we announced Minesweeper and another free ad-supported game, Sudoku, many of you who live elsewhere were disappointed to learn they were U.S. only titles. A few folks were downright mad, and questioned our international aspirations and commitment.
We took notice. You see, a lot of time is spent here working on ways to get our phone and apps in the hands of more people around the world (for evidence, see here and here), so your reaction struck a chord.
“It’s not that we don’t want to have worldwide consumer releases,” John Dongelmans, a director of Xbox LIVE games marketing and one of the early responders, told me. “But in some cases we face challenges due to feature availability and licensing restrictions.”
Dongelmans said the team is working hard to ensure more Xbox LIVE titles for Windows Phone are available more broadly in the future—including, by the way, Sudoku.
“We are serious about resolving this.”
Any chance the bugs I noted in the review of Minesweeper are going to be addressed, assuming they're bugs? :(
What was the reason in this case why you didn't release it worldwide initially?
I'm hoping for (reasonably priced) Zune music services in Switzerland in the near future. Let's hope it's not orchestrated by the same moron that set the Zune movie rental prices here...
Cheers keep up the good work look forward to seeing suduko.
Keep letting us know what's happening and can we have a look at the pricing model again?
Thanks a lot! It is great to have the feeling that it matters (to you), what we thing. And, that the community is strong.
Love Minesweeper on the phone now, after I really hated it on PC. :-) Great job, Microsoft Game Studios!!! Looking forward to Sudoku ...
is it possible to download free apps worldwide?
I think we've beaten this horse so much it's putrid now. I've been suggesting every part of the WP7 team that communication can mend a lot of pain, especially in this fragile evolving wp7 ecosystem. There are tons of problems which aren't exactly solved in a haste, and while that is not pleasant, we can understand it. BUT only if people keep talking to us and tell us what is happening and why in detail. This is even more true for developers. Your analogy is dead on target.
But it's not really happening !! This simple, little Minesweeper is a good example. How hard was it to give some more detail on the causes of the restrictions, or just what you plan to do specifically, or post an update in between like 'good news, coming in a few days', or just wait for a week and deploy to everyone, etc ?
Thank you guys. Now do the same to the rest of the awesome features of Windows Phone ;-)
What's left? => e.g. "We're In" and "Localscout"...
What many of you have been hitting on regarding the regional availability of games, features, etc., is an ongoing battle. Some of you ascribe intentional, nearly malicious intent on the part of Microsoft in its seeming unwillingness to make everything to do with WP7 globally available. Microsoft has posted, on more than one occasion, that there are a number of legal, licensing and other international hurdles they have to hurdle, as well as some just plain old mistakes in the process. But, while we should be willing to accept that at face value and NOT act like Microsoft is trying to spite the rest of the world, I think the real issue is the same one that has plagued WP7 from the start: communication. It all has the flavor of a kid coming to the parent and asking why they can't have something, only to have the parent say "because I said so". In this case, though, you folks in other countries have a valid issue and your frustration understandably grows the longer Microsoft doesn't come completely clean with the horrid details of how their approval process works and what SPECIFIC roadblocks they are running into.
There are SO many facets to what smartphones do and how they do it, that you can't quite treat them like, say, getting Office 2010 deployed globally. I get that. But with so many people internationally pulling for WP7 to succeed, and with the absolute need to seriously ramp up demand for WP7, it should be a no-brainer to figure out a communication plan that answers enough of the burning questions about regional access so that, even solutions aren't coming soon, customers will be well-informed.
Again, I don't think it's fair to assume there's some sort of spiteful intent behind the problem. Just bad judgement.
@ Luke -
Good to see some more Aussie feedback here on the US WP7 Blog. Here's some links you might like for WP7:
1. Purely selfish - my site (I think the biggest Aussie WP7 site) is http://www.wpdownunder.com
2. For all your regional features/restrictions on WP7/Zune info. check out Andrew's amazing work here: http://bit.ly/n26aGp
3. The infrequently updated offcial WP7 Aussie Blog by MS: www.thewindowsblog.com.au
With the exception of local Developer Evangalists - you have to realise 99.9% of the WP7 team are Redmons, US based. Further to this, as much as we want it otherwise - from a Sales and Marketing perspective to date in Australia we have really only seen a "soft" launch by MS for WP7.
Here's hoping Mango and Gen2 handsets get some real advertising, promotion and support in the market!
I think its a step in the right direction but I also think it has a long way to go. In Australia (and a lot of other places I bet) Apple is dominating in terms of iPods and Macs all because Microsoft hasn't been bothered to get their act together on an international level.
Here are a few things that puzzle me when it comes to Microsoft - coming from an Australian point of view.
Please take note though that this isn't really directed to the blog writer(s). Nor do i expect them to know the answers to my questions but if someone from Microsoft could give some answers it would be nice...
1. Apple is a massive company and has successfully distributed media through iTunes for several years in Australia without a hitch - if they are powerful enough to work with/get around "licensing restrictions" then why isnt Microsoft able or even more able to do the same?
2. Microsoft put out windows phone 7 for my country. I cheer. You hook it up to the Zune Software (which is beautiful) and discover that all you can get from the marketplace are movies (which i dont care for) and apps. Along with all the other everyday consumers we want a phone that does everything and is a central media unit. Because the Marketplace doesnt allow Music in my region (an the internal phone memory isnt big enough) then why should i give up iTunes as my media hub?
3. You look over at the US marketplace and it tempts you with its Zune Pass! Why can't we get it in Australia!? Seriously I don't see why Zune Pass is not pushed to be available everywhere in the world. With the right publicity, like a tv commercial, Zune Pass could surpass Apple as No. 1 digital music distributor. I almost bothered to go through this lengthy process to get a Zune Pass because they are that worth it. You have no idea how lucky you are in the US. Check it out. techin5.com/.../how-to-buy-music-and-get-the-zune-pass-in-australia
4. Why doesnt microsoft have some sort of official international blog (unless there is one that i have overlooked) which outlines when stuff like the zune store would be available in different countries and updates of how negotiations are coming along? All the speculation and false hopes really annoy me. A simple website/blog outlining this kind of thing would be really useful.
5. dj greedo got the wording perfectly. The Zune software is very "US-Centric" and its so damn disappointing, if not frustrating.
6. Why should Microsoft choose to focus on getting Minesweeper out in all markets? Why, out of any app, does minesweeper get priority? Surely there are more useful apps that international markets are wishing they had...
Anyway, thats my 2 cents worth. Thanks for actually taking the time to listen to loyal customers though. It really has my respect.
It is good to see it hit my phone here in the UK, but for better customer relations it would have been better to wait a few weeks and release this worldwide rather than in the US only first and then roll it out.
All we need now is the Podcast support in the Zune Software and Phone, please!!! :)
Anybody knows if its possible to lock my screen such that it stays only in portrait mode,especially when browsing while lying down.if its not possible for now,will be included in Mango??
Michael Stroh is the man,two thumbs up
Great work guys , its great to see you guys taking your users feedback seriously :) I am huge Windows Phone fan and am truly blown away by the level of enthusiasm that some of the guys from the Windows Phone team has shown over time ( if I have to name names Brandon Watson is doing a Legen-wait for it-dary job in keeping devs happy
@ Michael :
Any chance you could bring this issue to John 's attention : www.bestwp7games.com/getting-furious-fast-the-emptying-marketplace.html
Its a real cause for concern for gamers :(
Can we get a XBOX LIVE version of Unite?
Nice work Michael - We completely understand that MS is not silly enough to restrict the availability for something for no reason. Think of how the release would have been received instead if;
It hits the US market and your Blog post says - We have released to the US market first, to start getting critical feedback to MS on this new model for us of releases (Ad supported) - and the Int'l release will follow over the next few weeks whilst we A. use that feedback to finalise the release outside the US or B. get our licensing in order etc.
Engagement, context, re-affirmation for non-US markets...
Just takes that extra little bit of time for MS to "manage" the release comm's a little better from their various departments.
Thanks for the feedback :D
That's good. But seriously, do we really need to shout like that every time ?
Or more importantly, you should rather tell people the why, the when, the how ... !
I just "complained" about International availability in your previous post, and now you have responded immediately to show Microsoft commitment to international market. I really appreciate this sincerity and hope that the commitment come into more action. There are not many companies in the world that have so much local presence around the world than Microsoft, I believe WP7 can tap on this to make more significant feature, like bing scout to international market. Combined with Nokia, I believe WP7 will be more success in and outside US.. :)
Awesome, not so much that we're gettin minesweeper (though that is a bonus) but that you're listening to people outside the US. Please don't forget about us, I'm still waiting for Zune Pass in Canada!!!
Thanks, finally available. Sudoku would be nice too.
Great work! Always nice to see the big companies taking notice of us little customers! :) much appreciated! now sudoku!
Just saying....I'm in Brazil. ¬¬
I really appreciate the great effort to listen to us while you innovate.
Keep working on getting all services and features working elsewhere and the word of mouth on the windows phone and other products will spread miles...
Wow ! good to see that MS pay attention about wp7 useres around the world !
Still unavailable in Belgium...
Please make tethering app. In WM 5.x to WM 6.5 i have tethering (usb/bluetooth). On WP7 i'm don't have =( degrate
That's more like it. Thanks a lot Michael and MicroSoft for this.
I'm really pleased to hear this news. It is great to know that Microsoft really listens to their users.
Hopefully in future articles/press releases you will issue more clarification when something is geo-restricted to avoid a similar kind of backlash.
I'm not sure if I really understand the licensing excuse. There are plenty of minesweeper games that are already on the marketplace. If I were to develop my own game I can't imagine a reason why I would ever restrict it to one country?
Hello! I'm make migration my profile from US to Russian (live.xbox.com/.../SelectRegion), and lost my purshed history in Zune Marketplace (and WP7 apps)
My answer: answers.microsoft.com/.../06ee8c39-34f0-41d1-b525-de24d0050ef9
You cant fix this bug? More user frome other region, who use WP7 before launch lost purshed history.
In my situation, i'm lost 150$.
This is great news. It is totally understandable that rolling out services, software and hardware internationally requires the right combination of local legislation/regulatory compliance and content licensing, but a lot of angst surrounding future geo-locked announcement would be significantly reduced if this was mentioned in the announcement for that particular geo-locked service or feature. Merely point out in the announcement for future product X that it is only available in US initially because of third party licensing or legislation restrictions, and that efforts are being made to get the relevant permissions to expand availability. Most people will accept that.
Why not in Brazil? I live in Brazil and I'm just waiting for WP7 to be fully available here so I can finaly change mine to use a Brazilian Live Account and be able to purchase apps, but this kind of restrictions only makes me want to hold back on that. If you're not making it available in Brazil (or any country) for a specific reason, it is better the disclosure the reason soon, so people can understand and not get frustrated or even angry.
The same thing happens with other apps and features as well (Zune Marketplace and Pass, LOTS of Bing features, voice recognition...). Full disclosure about the reasons behind it won't hurt Microsoft and will help the platform a lot in our little countries.
I love the phone (I have one since launch), even thou I can't purchase any apps yet. Imagine what I (and others) will do and say when we can purchase but can't find the apps we want/need? Help us help you make this platform even better.
I think whilst a lot of us can appreciate that some parts of licensing are outside of MS' hands and that they need to address larger markets first, other time's it doesn't work. The "We're In" app just launched is now only US and Israel. This is a MS app, using only MS services (Bing Maps) already available in the rest of the world, but wasn't released internationally. As a long time Google Latitude user (not since WP7 launch when I became a WP7 dev), this was a problem for me.
You guys really do make great products, but small things like this really do send ripples through the grass roots movement and hurt the image of MS and WP7. Even though you're obviously aware of it and try to release them worldwid ASAP, missing out on the official launch of apps such as We're In (without licensing issues) truely makes the rest of us feel like second class citizens. Without licensing restrictions, it just hurts that someone over @ MS actually still thinks US only is a good idea for these kind of things.
But, good to read this post and will be downloading Minesweeper when it appears in the MP :) Keep 'em coming
This is great news guys. Keep that same attitude, it really goes a long way. Even on something as simple as a 50GS Xbox Live game it's going to be appreciated and it reflects highly on the company and responsible teams! Most of the educated techies that follow these blogs know about the hoops that are required for Xbox games, Zune Pass, etc to get released in various countries. So thanks for listening to the community and working hard to make this happen.
Cool, now the rest of the world can be just as frustrated as those of us in the US.
(Seriously, even on "easy", the game comes down to a 50:50 guess more often than not. And if you don't want us to use the EMP to solve the puzzle, just say so; don't crash to make your point.)
But hey, free achievements.
Great to hear! I've been worried at Microsoft's tendency to be US-centric with all things Zune.
I'd really like to see a detailed blog post about the issues of licensing, particularly music/TV/movies. I've been a Zune user in a non-US country since the original Zune and it's been difficult to understand why Microsoft couldn't roll something comparable to iTunes out by now. What could be making it so difficult when those fools at Apple have their iTunes so chock full of music and video?
I feel there are still too many gaps in the MS ecosystem. I have WP7, Zune HD, Media Center PC, Windows 7, and Xbox 360, but they don't work as well together as they should.
I hope I'm not being optimistic when I imagine all these things pulling together with Mango, the new Xbox dashboard, Windows 8, and a bigger international rollout and emphasis.
Happy to hear that! I suspect that you will continue to find strong reactions here because the reality is, you've created an amazing platform that many of us are incredibly passionate about. :P
It's not that we want to give you a hard time, but we're just as excited as you are to see this platform succeed, in the US and everywhere else.
Keep the international features coming!
Great! Thank you! :-)
Now about that mango distribution schedule... :-P