May 15, 2017 1:01 pm

Windows Store: more options to manage, monetize and promote apps

At Build 2017 last week, the Windows Store announced new capabilities to reach more customers, improve your productivity and promote and monetize your apps and games, including:

  • Offering your games to Xbox One users
  • Updating your Store listings faster via import/export
  • Releasing new games or apps using private beta, targeting a limited audience
  • Navigating Dev Center faster through an updated dashboard experience
  • Enabling more users to acquire apps via one-click download with no Microsoft account login
  • Offering more engaging Store listings with video trailers
  • Monetizing via recurring billing using in-app purchase subscriptions
  • Offering discounts only to some user segments, or only to users of your other apps or games
  • Analyzing your app performance more effectively, through funnel analysis and crash analytics
  • Earning more revenue from ads through more advertising formats

To learn more, I recommend viewing the Build session Windows Store: manage and promote apps your way (B8098), and reading this blog post.

More opportunity for your apps and games

Your UWP apps and games can run on any Windows 10 device, so you can reach out to hundreds of millions of users with a single app. The Store helps you grow that opportunity, reach more customers, acquire new users and increase the revenue for those users with several new capabilities. View the Build 2017 session Tips and Tricks for Successful Store Apps (B8102) to learn how to best use these new capabilities.

Increase your revenue through in-app advertising (New). Advertising is one of the primary monetization models for many publishers, and the Store now offers several new ad experiences that bring better yield and higher fill rates for ads in UWP apps: interstitial banner ads, playable ads and native ads (beta), in addition to the existing banner and video ads. To learn more, view Build session A quick lap around Microsoft Monetization Platform (P4112).

Example of a playable ad running in a UWP game

Promote your apps, and drive re-engagement using ad campaigns (New). Dev Center offers the ability to acquire new users in several ways: promotional codes, targeted offers and ad campaigns. Creating an ad campaign requires few clicks, and now supports interstitial banner, native and playable ads (beta). These ad campaigns are shown to users on other apps, as well as on Microsoft properties such as MSN.com, Skype and Outlook. To learn more, view the Build session User acquisition through Ads (session P4154).

Acquire more customers through one-click download, and buy Xbox games on PC (New). The Store has enabled faster and simpler app acquisition by letting customers acquire free apps or games (with age rating 13-year old or lower) with one click, without requiring the user to sign in with their Microsoft account. In addition to this change, customers can now purchase Xbox games directly from the PC Store. These new options help grow the number of users that download your app or game.

Distribute UWP games on Xbox One, engaging with hundreds of millions of Xbox One users and more than 50 million Xbox Live accounts (Coming soon). Dev Center already allows any developer to publish apps not categorized as games to Xbox One. Developers can now join the new Xbox Live Creators Program to submit games to Xbox One, with fast certification, no cost and no friction. You can start developing and testing your Xbox Live enabled games today, and you’ll be able to publish games for Xbox One in summer. View the Xbox Live Creators Program build session (P4159) to learn more.

Offer in-app purchase subscriptions (Coming soon). Apps can be configured to include in-app subscriptions, i.e. selling services in-app that charge periodically (1/3/6/12/24-month renewal periods), with or without a free trial. In-app subscription capability is currently in preview, being tested by a few publishers and will be available to all developers this summer. Follow the Building apps for Windows blog for more announcements.

In addition to these features, remember that you can offer your app or game to businesses or education institutions through the Microsoft Store for Business that offers a redesigned private Store experience for companies. You can also take your existing Win32 app or game and offer it through the Windows Store using the Desktop Bridge.

Dev Center experience redesign

More modern and efficient dashboard experience (Dev Center Insiders). The Dev Center dashboard has been redesigned based on your feedback to help you be more productive. The new dashboard integrates with Office, Cortana and Groove programs. It has a clean new interface, beautiful analytics, new account-level pages, integrated app picker and streamlined program switching.  These are a few of the things that make the new dashboard more useful, particularly for accounts with multiple apps, games or programs. Try it out today by joining the Dev Center Insider Program.

Startup guide for the new dashboard experience

Invite users outside of your organization to collaborate on your apps and games (New). We now support inviting users outside your company to contribute to the projects in your account. This makes collaboration and partnerships across companies and users easier than ever. Your account users are governed by the same roles and permissions that you apply to users in your AAD tenant, ensuring that you remain in full control.


Reaching more customers

To help customers find your app or game, and then increase the probability they will download it, the Store has added new search filters, and ways to make your store listing more engaging, and ways to update your Store listings in bulk, streamlining the update in multiple languages.

Help customers find your apps or games with new search capabilities (Rollout starting). Starting today, we’re rolling out the option to indicate if your app uses Cortana, Ink or Continuum, or if your games offer mixed reality, 4K, HDR, multi-player, co-op, or shared split screen. Indicate in the Properties page of your submission if it supports these capabilities, and this summer customers will be able to filter their searches to show only apps or games that support the capabilities they are looking for.

Search filters that will show up in the Store later in the summer

Create more engaging Store listings with video trailers (Rollout starting). Many of you have told us that video trailers are one of the best ways to attract customers. After piloting the feature earlier this year, today we’re beginning to roll out the ability to upload trailers to use in your Store listing, and all accounts should have access within a few months. We’ve made a few other updates to the types of images you can provide for a great Store listing, including 4K high-resolution assets.

Create and update Store listings faster with Import/Export (Coming soon). Creating and updating Store listings takes many clicks per language and can take hours for a submission with listings in many languages. Dev Center allows you to import and export your listings, so you can make changes offline in bulk and then upload all your listing details at once, rather than having to manually input each string and image for each language. We’ll be rolling this feature out to all accounts over the next few months.

Submission page showing progress using import/export Store listings

Planning your release

Once you have created your app submission and designed an engaging Store listing, you’ll have to plan the release. The Store supports several visibility options, including a release only accessible through promotional codes, a public but not searchable release (hidden), public release or flighting different packages of your published app to specific groups of people. Flighting is widely used, with more than 30,000 package flights created so far. We’re adding additional options to let you release private betas, and to schedule a release very precisely.

Release a submission at a precise date and time (Rollout starting). Dev Center previously let you define when a submission would start to be published, but didn’t let you know exactly when the submission would be live. You can now specific a precise date and time, in UTC or local time, during your submission. We are beginning to roll out the new Schedule options today, and all accounts should have access within a few months.

Offer a private beta (Coming soon). Soon you’ll be able to publish a new app or game that is only visible to people in a specific group that you define; anyone who’s not in your beta group won’t be able to see the Store listing page or download the product. This feature is being used by selected preview apps, and we will be releasing this feature to all developers within the next few months.

Remember that you can also use the Store service APIs to streamline your app management. There are APIs to submit and release apps, games and add-ons, manage package flights, access analytics information, read and respond to reviews and run ad campaigns.

Optimizing pricing and configuring deals and sales

Once your apps and games are published to the Store, you may want to adjust your app or add-on price, grow your customer engagement or offer sales to attract more customers.

Create new types of customer segments (New). Several features in Dev Center support segments, including sales, targeted offers, notifications and analytics. You can now create segments by market breakdown, purchase amount and if a user has rated the app or not. Coming soon, you’ll be able to use a predictive churn model to create segments of users who are predicted to stop using your app (churn), so you can take a preventive approach.

Show content or pricing targeted to a specific segment (New). The new targeted offers feature lets you target specific segments of your customers with attractive, personalized content inside the app to increase engagement, retention and monetization. An example is discounting certain in-app products for customers who are first time payers. For more info and a demo of how to use this feature, view the Build session Maximizing user engagement with customized app content (P4116), or read more.

Control your price more precisely and schedule changes (Rollout starting). You can precisely schedule price changes for customers on Windows 10 over time, using the currency that makes sense to you, to occur globally or for specific markets. Rollout of this feature starts today and will finish within a few months.

Increase customer acquisition and engagement with more flexible sale pricing (Rollout starting). We’ve added more options to sale pricing to let you configure discounts by percentage (e.g. 40% off), offer discounts to customers that own one of your other apps (such as “50% off if you own this other game”), target a discount to a segment of users (e.g. offer discount to users that have not rated the game) and even use a new segment of customers that have never purchased anything in the Store. When a customer makes their first purchase, we’ve found that they typically continue to purchase more items in that initial app or game, as well as in other products in the Store. Rollout of advanced sale pricing starts today, and all accounts should have access to these features by summer. Note that when you offer a discount to a segment of your customers, you can also use our targeted notifications feature to alert those customers about the discount. Watch the Build 2017 session Maximizing revenue through advanced pricing, sales and scheduling (P4116) to learn more.

Dev Center configuration 

How sale pricing appears in the Store

View all possible price tiers in Excel (Rollout starting). While adjusting prices, many of you have asked to be able to have an easier way to view the price tiers in all the currencies. The Pricing and availability page now offers the option to download the price table in .csv (editable in Excel). Rollout starts today, and all accounts should have access to download the price table in a few months.

Improving analysis

Once your app is published and live, you’ll want to analyze its performance, to help adjust your listing or app to improve acquisitions, satisfaction or engagement. Our new analytics capabilities let you analyze multiple apps more effectively, identify areas of improvement in the conversion funnel, improve debugging and in general find patterns and trends to improve your app.

View analytics for multiple apps, using a modern design (Dev Center Insiders). Along with the release of the new dashboard experience, we have refreshed and enhanced our analytics features to bring you better insights. The new Analytics Overview quickly summarizes key reports like Acquisitions, Usage, Installs and Health, and you can select up to 5 apps to view at one time. You can get an early look at this new design by joining the Dev Center Insider Program.

Analyze your customer conversion funnel (Dev Center Insiders). The acquisition funnel shows the total number of customers that complete each stage of the funnel—from viewing the Store page to using the app, along with conversion rate. You can filter by customer demographics and custom campaigns to compare campaign effectiveness. The report is for Windows 10 customers over the last 90 days, and Page views also includes views from people who are not signed in with a Microsoft account. Try it out now by joining the Dev Center Insider Program.

Automatically receive alerts when there are anomalies in acquisition trends (Dev Center Insiders). It’s often easy to miss significant changes. To help you monitor data changes, you’ll get an email alerting you when we detect a significant trend change with your acquisitions. We’ll also include your app’s average rating for the last 10 days so you can see if they’ve been impacted. You can then use the Health and other reports to identify urgent fixes to address, or you can respond to reviews to help drive your ratings back up. To receive these emails now, join the Dev Center Insider Program.

Debug your apps more effectively Analyzing crashes and debugging apps is critical for improving the performance and quality of your apps and games. Today, the Health report lets you pinpoint which OS and app version configurations generate the most crashes, and link to failure details with individual stack traces.  This summer we’ll roll out the ability to download CAB files for crashes that occur on devices that participate in the Windows Insider program.

Understand usage and analyze by cohorts (Coming soon). The Usage report helps you understand how often and how long users are using an app, and measures interactive engagement time across active users and active devices, using industry-standard DAU/MAU metrics and retention. The report will soon include cohort analytics to help you understand usage drop-off over time. Join the Dev Center Insider program to be ready to use this analysis when it rolls out to all accounts within the next few months.

What comes next?

We hope you’ll take advantage of these resources and learn more about the capabilities described in this blog by doing the following:

Keep giving us feedback to help us prioritize features and updates. Use the feedback link in Dev Center, which you’ll now find in the upper right of the dashboard (if you’re using the new dashboard experience as part of the Dev Center Insider Program).

Updated May 15, 2017 1:37 pm

Join the conversation

  1. Nice to see some decent changes, but your store still includes 8 categories that are completely empty because as Developers you cannot select these categories in Dev Center.
    The categories are under Games:
    – Avatar
    – Classics
    – Companion
    – Multi-Player Online Battle Arena
    – Other
    – Social
    – Tools
    – Video
    Please remove these from the store or add them to Dev Center.

  2. It would be nice if the web store allowed the user the install apps on his other devices, not only the current device. Google Play Store has allowed this with a simple drop-down box to select the target device to install the app into and it works great.