Dev Center continuously adds more options to enable you to monetize and promote your apps and games, and to streamline new submissions or analyze app performance.
This month, Dev Center adds new capabilities that further this vision, including:
- Submit apps and games to Xbox One
- Reduce the risk of a new app release with gradual package rollout
- Communicate optional and required hardware preferences
- Ensure customers have an ideal experience with your app or game through mandatory updates
- Simplify cross-device development with Store–managed consumables
- Streamline app management with the Submission API and simplified device family targeting
- Enhance your business analysis through improved reports: lifetime add-on acquisitions, an enhanced Feedback report and the new Real time report
- Work faster in Dev Center using the new dashboard view
1. Enabling your apps and games to be offered to Xbox One customers
New – submit UWP apps and games to Xbox One: Dev Center has accepted submissions built using the Windows 10 Anniversary Update SDK build 14393 since earlier in August. Starting today, you can offer your apps built using this latest SDK to customers on Xbox One. To target your app to Xbox, select “Windows 10 Xbox” in the device family availability section of the Packages page of your submission, as described in the simplified device family targeting announcement below.
Game submissions targeting Xbox One require concept approval in order to successfully submit and publish onto the Xbox. This ensures games on Xbox deliver the experiences our players expect. If you would like to offer your UWP game to customers on Xbox One, please visit ID@Xbox to join the ID@Xbox Program, or reach out to the ID@Xbox account management team if you are already in the program.
2. Optimizing submission and new ways to test apps
New – dashboard redesign: The new design provides fast, easy access to the most frequently used dashboard actions and gives you quick access to the developer programs you are engaged with. You can quickly jump to edit the app by selecting the value you want to modify. You’ll see notifications (targeted messages to alert you to key actions) and personalized suggestions that include info about new Dev Center features.
New – gradual package rollout: Starting today Dev Center supports gradual package rollout to let you offer a package update only to a percentage of your customers. You can increase this percentage as your confidence in the update increases on the app’s Overview page. Once you have confidence in the update, the gradual rollout can be finalized to make this package available to all devices, or halted if there are issues with the package and you want to stop distributing it and then replace it with a subsequent update. Gradual rollout works for both package flights and for non-flighted submissions, for customers running Windows.Desktop build 10586 or later, Windows.Mobile build 10586.63 or later, and Xbox One. You can enable gradual rollout on the Packages page of your submission:
New – package flighting available for Xbox: Starting today, package flighting will also work for apps and games that target Xbox One. Please remind your Xbox test customers that they have to manually check for updates in the Store to get the latest flights, by signing into their Xbox One using their Microsoft account.
New – submission API: You can automate and streamline your submissions by using the new Windows Store submission API, which allows you to update apps/games, add-ons (in-app purchases), and package flights through a REST API. This feature is being enabled to developers in waves, and you’ll receive an email as your account is enabled. If you want to request earlier access, use the Feedback option at the bottom right of the Dev Center dashboard and select Submission API for the feedback area. The API only supports Dev Center features available prior to August, and does not yet support submissions that use new features such as targeting UWP apps for Xbox One and Store-managed consumables. Read the API documentation and samples or use the open source Submission API VSTS extension, available in GitHub, to get started.
New – mandatory update: You can configure your UWP app to require an app update; for example, this is frequently used in multi-player online games to ensure customers have the latest version before they run the game. To use this feature, add code to your app to check for the presence of a mandatory update, ideally when you first submit the app. Then whenever you submit an update, you can indicate in Dev Center that the update is mandatory and on what day it becomes mandatory. When your app determines that a mandatory update is available, it can then take the appropriate action (for example, asking the customer to update, or allowing offline playing only until the game has been updated). To learn more about this feature, read the docs here. This feature requires the Windows 10 SDK version 14393, and customers must be running Windows 10, version 1607 to run an app or game that uses this feature.
New – table with prices for all tiers: When creating a submission, in Markets and custom prices, Dev Center now includes a table with all the currencies and their prices, enabling you to understand the pricing across markets and to help optimize the price for your app, game or add-on.
Updated – simplified device family targeting: Dev Center now offers a tabular view that shows you how your app packages will be offered to customers on any supported device family. You can continue to select the Windows 10 device families on which you want to offer your app. Device family targeting is available on the packages page.
Updated – simplified and enhanced system requirements (previously “hardware preferences”): Hardware preferences were previously set in both the app manifest as well as in Dev Center, which could be confusing. Starting today Dev Center offers:
- A single way to define the hardware requirements, in the System requirements section of the App properties page of a submission
- More options: RAM*, DirectX* version, VRAM (video memory), and free text fields
- Allows you to specify both minimum as well as recommended hardware requirements
- Requirements will appear in the app’s Store listing for customers on Windows 10
- Apps can be installed even if the device does not meet the minimum requirements, but customers may see a warning (depending on their version of Windows and the specific requirements you provided) and may not submit ratings or reviews.
- You can also provide your own Additional system requirements when creating your app’s Store listing; the Minimum and Recommended requirements you enter will be displayed to customers when viewing your listing
* The existing options to declare RAM and DirectX specs in the package manifest are still supported and are considered first before the Dev Center settings. Going forward we recommend using the Dev Center settings, as this provides more flexibility and agility when updating your apps.
Updated – experimentation (A/B testing): this feature, available since earlier in the year, allows you to run experiments in your app and determine which option achieves the best results based on user behavior. Starting this month, A/B testing has an updated UI to improve the experimentation experience, run multi-variant tests and track results in real time. To learn more about this feature, read the docs here.
Updated – submissions cannot change the category to Games (or from Games): If you publish an app in the Games category, you won’t be able to pick a different category in a new submission. You also can’t choose the Games category for an app that you previously published in a different category. You can continue to change the category for apps that weren’t ever published in the Games category, and you can change the sub-category within apps or games.
3. Adding more options to monetize and promote your apps
New – Store-managed consumables add-on (in-app product): Dev Center now allows you to configure Store-managed consumable add-ons, available for apps that target Windows 10, version 1607 or higher. Microsoft keeps track of the balances of Store-managed consumables across devices, minimizing the amount of tracking and coding you have to do to know how many consumables are available to the user. Store managed-consumables are a better option than the already available developer-managed consumable add-on if the app runs online most of the time, if your app can run on many devices, or if you want to keep track of a customer balance automatically.
Coming in November – company name different than display name: The legal company name no longer has to be the same as the publisher display name used in the Store. Note that if you change your publisher display name your account will undergo an additional review, and you’ll need to re-package and re-submit your apps with the new name.
Updated – new Store SDK name: the SDK used to manage all the Store capabilities, previously named Monetization Store Engagement and Monetization SDK, is now called the Microsoft Store Services SDK to reflect the growing set of Store capabilities included in the SDK. The SDK includes all the monetization and ads-in-apps capabilities, and is available for Windows 10/UWP apps. This update removes the ad mediation service. Read more about the SDK, and download it now.
Updated – new capabilities for promotional codes: these codes are used to let any user acquire one of your apps or add-ons at no cost, typically used to promote your app or give your app away to testers. Dev Center now allows you to create more codes, up to 500 per app or add-on every six months, and the offers codes can be used multiple times (ideal for social media), and can be configured to have a future validity start date.
Updated – simplified management of multi users and permissions: Dev Center allows you to create and manage multiple users with their permissions by setting up your Azure Active Directory, at no cost, directly in the Dev Center dashboard.
Updated – single registration for many developer programs: Dev Center registration is now the place to onboard as a developer for Windows, Azure and Office. Payment account and tax information is shared between all these developer programs, including Microsoft advertising payouts.
Updated – improvements in payout notifications: Dev Center sends email notifications when you are paid, and the payout reports now shows ad revenue as one of the revenue sources for the app.
Updated – “add-on” is the new name for in-app product (IAP): Dev Center is renaming all references to in-app product (IAP) to add-ons.
Updated – improvements on Store listing page and app version ratings: The Store now offers more options to view ratings and reviews. By default the Store shows ratings for your latest app version, and now offers a new filter to view ratings from the last 30 days as well as lifetime app ratings. The updated design also shows more information to customers, including system requirements, friends who also play this game, broadcasts, game clips and it offers the option to choose the drive where the app or game will be installed.
Updated – more intelligent auto-suggestions in the Store: The Store’s automatically-generated search suggestions provide more useful recommendations by showing the most appropriate content first, either app, game, music or TV/video:
Insiders – bulk add-on update: Dev Center allows you to more easily manage apps with a large number of add-ons, and reduce the number of errors when updating them through the new capability to export, modify and then import all the add-ons. This feature is only available for Dev Center Insiders, so sign up if you want to try it out.
4. Providing more detailed and up-to date analytics
New – add-on lifetime reporting: new report filter that allows you to see the lifetime number of acquisitions for your add-ons. This shows the cumulative total of all acquisitions, starting from when your add-on was first published.
Updated – Dev Center app improvements: the UWP app allows you to view your app analytics directly from your Windows 10 PC, tablet or phone. The app now supports the ability to pin individual apps, view payout information and sort your apps.
Updated – Feedback report: this feature allows you to collect customer feedback directly in your app when users simply click on a link in the app to launch Feedback Hub. The feedback, votes and comments will show up in the Feedback report in Dev Center. From the report, you can directly respond to your customers. Learn how to launch the Feedback Hub directly from your app.
Insiders – customer segmentation and targeted notifications: with this feature, available to Dev Center Insiders only, you can create and schedule custom notifications to send to your app’s customers. You can send notifications to all of them or to selected segments that meet the criteria you define like demographics, usage metrics and purchase status. Customer segments and notifications can be used to encourage desired actions (like buying something), or for loyalty and retention campaigns, maximizing cross- and up-sell opportunities, identifying product differentiation strategies and discovering what each segment finds most valuable. Read the announcement blog for more details.
Insiders – real-time reporting: Dev Center offers a new report to view your app data in real-time, with a delay of a few hours or less. In Dev Center, choose Real time report in the left menu under Analytics, and select the time range (from the last 7 days and up to the last hour of data on a per minute basis), to see a more dynamic picture of your acquisitions and add-ons. This report includes only data from users running Windows 10 and is available for Dev Center insiders, so sign up to try it out.
In addition to these enhancements, earlier this month Dev Center updated the App Developer Agreement (change log) and Windows Store Policies (change log) to support the new Dev Center capabilities and expansion of Store features.
As you begin to use these new capabilities, please let us know your feedback and experience through the “Feedback” button in Dev Center (found in the bottom right of each page) or vote for new features in the Windows Platform UserVoice for Dev Center. Your feedback helps us identify areas of future focus.
Updated September 13, 2016 1:41 pm