Lessons Learned in Windows 8 App Certification

Today, I finally got my first Windows 8 app into the marketplace.  It was certainly not for a lack of trying, however.  I actually failed my first FIVE attempts, but I chalk most of that up to inexperience more than anything else.  This post is meant to shed some light on the issues I faced, so that you might be lucky enough to avoid them.

1. Use the WACK (Windows App Certification Kit)

The first time I was denied, most of it was completely avoidable.  There is an amazing tool called the WACK (Windows App Certification Kit) baked in to Visual Studio 2012 that will analyze your app package for all of the computer-verifiable issues your app may have.  This includes things like:

  • Forgetting to provide all of the appropriate icons.
  • Accurately checking your capabilities vs. functionality.
  • Performance metrics.
  • Many more (the entire list can be found here.)

2. Don’t advertise outside of your app.

In my Settings charm menu, I included an About page.  On this about page, I included a way to get a hold of me if you have comments, suggestions, requests, or discover a bug.  I also included a mention that this same app exists in the Windows Phone marketplace, if you’re interested in that.

THIS IS APPARENTLY A BIG NO-NO.

2.3 Your app must not use its description, tiles, notifications, app bar, or the swipe-from-edge interactions to display ads

The elements of your app’s description, such as screenshots, text, and promotional images must describe your app and not contain additional advertising.

This means that you cannot provide links to your other apps, because this is considered “advertising,” which I guess in its truest definition is accurate.

3. Be prepared for the challenge that Taiwan, South Africa, Korea, and Brazil will present.

More accurately, those four countries require a game to have an age rating verification, and the Windows Store doesn’t do a great job of warning you about this before you submit your app.  (They also don’t offer any guidance on how to accomplish it.)  On one screen, you have the ability to choose from well over 80 countries.

image

On a completely separate screen related to game ratings, they subtly mention that there are four countries that require a game rating:

image

If you don’t put two and two together to make four, you’ll likely get denied for this, so take one of two approaches here:

1)  Take the time to wait for the official ratings boards to get you a certificate that verifies your rating.

2) Submit your app without these four countries initially, and then update the app to support them once you receive your ratings.

Here’s where you can submit an application for each country:

Brazil – DJCTQ

Korea – GRB

South Africa – FPB

Taiwan – CSRR

Summary

So, those are my simple lessons learned from my first Windows 8 app submission.  I hope to have many more in the near future, and I’ll be sure to announce them here when it happens.  If you would like to check out this app I’ve made, you can check it out here:

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It’s an authentic re-creation of the video poker machines you find in every casino.  I’d love your feedback, your requests for more features, and especially your positive reviews.

Let me know what you think!

20 thoughts on “Lessons Learned in Windows 8 App Certification

  1. So what would be the correct way to advertise your other apps? This requirement seems a little ridiculous.

    • You can advertise ALL DAY within your actual app. You just can’t do it from any of the places listed in the requirement. I agree, it sucks, because I don’t want to bombard people with that kind of info. I’d rather it be discoverable, and what better way to do that than by providing something in the AppBar or Settings charm menu?

      I guess it makes sense, as there will be some that will abuse the privilege, but it sucks for those of us just trying to show off our work.

      • Exactly Jeff. The design guidelines strictly tell us that the main UI should only focus on the actual content of the app. Could you at least put something like this in the About pane:

        For more information about this, and all of our apps, check out our website at http://www.foo.com

      • Nope, that’s almost exactly what I provided.

      • *groan*

        well, thanks for the tip. I’m about to submit my first app.

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  6. Hi Jeff, is that hard to provide a certification for game rating in those four countries? As a brazilian, a .net developper (not yet for Win 8) and above all, as a Win 8 user I fell a little disappointed to see such recommendation to avoid those countries.

    • Diego, my apologies. I have not yet investigated the process for getting an official game rating from Brazil and the other countries. I owe you the diligence to investigate this, and I will.

    • Diego, take a look at this:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DJCTQ#Requesting_a_rating

      “In order to request a Qualification Rating, one will have to provide a documentation (in a Portuguese-language form) which explains why a media (game/TV show, etc.) is recommended or not to a certain rating. A preview of that media is also cumplosory to avoid mistakes during media verification.

      The document will have to be sent to the Department. There’s no fee to get the rating and the process from the documents reception to the official rating can take about 20 days.”

  7. Total population of Korea, Taiwan, Brazil and South Africa is 31.561.128. If you consider 1% of it as potential buyers of your application we are talking about 3.5 millions possibilities to gain money (or fame).

    Why you think excluding 3.5 millions of buyers as a Lesson Learned?

    The real lesson, as I think, is “Be aware to specify the game rating of your game”.

    • Its not that simple. You have to get your game officially rated by the governing bodies of those countries. This could add days, if not weeks, to your release date. I propose the right solution is to actively pursue a game rating from these countries as early as possible, or include them in your v2 release when your rating has been completed.

      • This sounds more plausible to me. I saw in your reply to Diego that the process is very bureaucratic and discourages the production of games for these countries. But in a global market we must think globally, and have an open mind to deal with cultural differences.

        Thank you for your considerations.

    • don’t know where you got those numbers, but in Brazil alone there are almost 200 million people :) it only strenghtens your point but worth mentioning!

  8. 4. If your app fails the manual test due to content or description, it’s possible to pass by resubmitting without a change :D

  9. I think it may be very hard to non portuguese speakers to submit the Brazilian form and provide the correct documentation. I’m a developer from Brazil and if you are interested I can help you to get the rating here. It will be very enriching to me to learn this step in distributing w8 apps. fqborges AT gmail.

  10. One gotcha I discovered from submitting my Windows Phone app, and I have no reason to believe it wouldn’t apply here either, is that China doesn’t allow the use of Bing Maps, so if you have a Maps control if your app, you cannot sell the app in China.

    I don’t remember seeing that mentioned anywhere but at least it was easy to exclude the app from China in order to get it through certification.

  11. On selling in multiple countries:

    Do you need any special tax info or anything like that set up for those countries? Can I just select all countries (app isn’t a game) and accept those international sales the same as domestic? I know MSFT will do the currency conversion, but I’m only confused/concerned with taxation.

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