Code Breaker TileAs per my earlier post, I submitted my Windows Phone 7 game to the Windows Phone Marketplace on Thursday 21st June 2012. Today it was finally available publicly in the Marketplace with a direct link:

It’s been a pretty interesting run up to it being available and today has been fun monitoring progress and usage so I thought I’d share some thoughts, tips and plans for next steps.

Marketplace submission

I’d already gone through the process of submitting an app to the Marketplace as I ran a short private beta of Code Breaker (a fairly new feature the Marketplace offers). This lets you to submit an app and allow specific users (via LiveID) access to your app with a direct link (it wont show up in marketplace searches). The submission process is fairly simple although there are a couple of confusing/frustrating points and seemingly the ‘read this for more information’ links target page has been changed and there isn’t actually any relevant information on there. For example I was curious about best practices for keywords but when clicking through for more information there is nothing to be found about keywords. Even the formatting (comma or space separated etc) isn’t defined so you’re left to figure it out for yourself. No major issue but pretty slack considering what Windows Phone is up against. I’m sure this will improve in the near future with Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 just around the corner.

The biggest frustration however was the delay. A week from submission to available is far too long in my opinion. Again, if MS are hoping to gain more market share from the Android Play and iOS App stores, offering a worse experience for your developers to these rival platforms is not the way to go. My advice though is plan around a week and use that time to work on your next idea or start to build some promo material ready for when it is available. Fortunately for me I’ve been working with Scott on a Windows Phone Developer Day which has put me in front of quite a few WP7 devs and likely had a positive impact on the number of people downloading Code Breaker.

Launch Day Usage

My morning ritual of checking the marketplace link (available in your AppHub dashboard) for Code Breaker availability was met with success for the first time today. As soon as I had a moment I tweeted the link to a modest 450ish followers. Within moments Scott advised me of a better approach to sharing marketplace links which will take users on Windows Phone devices directly to the marketplace app on their phones whilst redirecting users on desktops to their regional Marketplace website more info on his very useful Windows Phone Nuggets website.

Something I hadn’t planned but worked out really well was my implementation of a High Scores board. I chose to use the very handy Scoreoid service which saved me loads of development time (will post a more thorough review later). I decided I would submit every players progress when they completed a level and until they chose to register a username I would use a randomly generated one. What this meant was that as users were playing the game I could track their progress via the Scoreoid website.

Between my launch tweet at 9:46 this morning and now (20:30 same day) I can see I’ve had over 100 users complete nearly 600 levels of Code Breaker! The numbers also seem to be going up in frequency as well which is astonishing and far better than I expected. The benefit of using a service such as Scoreoid is that the feedback I am checking is instant whereas the more formalised stats service I’m using (Flurry) and the PubCenter details seem to have quite a significant delay.

It seems Code Breaker is now appearing in the “New” section under Games in the Marketplace which would explain the increased velocity of usage:

What Next

Scoreoid has helped me identify a couple of issues with Code Breaker firstly out of the 90+ users who have tried Code Breaker, only 5 have registered their own username. Whilst the Register button is on the main screen for Code Breaker it isn’t mentioned during game play so there isn’t much call to action to actually do so. This I will address ASAP and encourage more users to enter their own username. The benefit of this is that you will be able to identify yourself on the high score whereas at the moment you can’t tell.

I’ve also discovered another bug (via the handy crash report and stack trace download in AppHub) which causes the game to crash which I will fix ASAP.

Other than that I will keep promoting it and keep an eye on the PubCenter reports (ad revenue) to see if this thing will actually generate any relevant income – at present it’s earning a whopping 21p (including the beta) but I didn’t expect anything yet so we’ll see how that pans out. I’ll be sure to share any progress on that front here and on Twitter.

I’m managing all of TODO items via the excellent Pivotal Tracker so if you’re interested in what I’m working on you can check that out:

If you’ve played Code Breaker I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions (twitter or email) and would really appreciate if you could give a positive review on Marketplace if you’d like to see it develop further. And of course, I’ll keep on sharing my experiences along the way 🙂