Have you ever noticed how something things just gnaw at your very being. This is the case with the WP7 marketplace, the Zune software, and the things that drive me batshit crazy with a side of fries. To go. I wanted to share.
XBox Live is Not the Centre of the Universe
Okay, it’s fine that the Zune software has an XBox live tag for games so can see them clearly but do we really need to have it shoved down our throats. On every click?
Click on Games in the marketplace:
The first thing that it defaults to on the filters on the right is XBox Live:
Okay. Fine. However if you change it (say to Paid) then click onto a title when you come back from that title is the filter still set to Paid? No. It’s back to XBox Live again.
Really? Give us a break. If you change to any filter on any other genre then click on the selected title, it doesn’t revert back to anything. It stays on the selection you picked. Let’s be fair here. The Games genre should behave just like every other one. If I pick Paid then when I come back to the list please remember that.
On the subject of XBox Live titles, Microsoft (and developers who have an agreement with Microsoft to produce Live titles, which generally rules out indie game developers) is double dipping with regards to exposure of their titles.
Here’s the Puzzle and Trivia Game section on the Marketplace for XBox Live titles:
And here’s the same category filtered on Paid titles:
See the problem? Two indie titles while the rest are XBox Live ones. So while XBL has it’s filter, they also get to showcase their wares in the Paid and Free filters as well.
If you’re going to have an XBox Live filter then use it and stop pushing down indie titles until they’re off the screen (on some genres this is already the case). Free and Paid titles should be just that and not include XBox Live ones. If you’re really stoked that people can’t find the Free XBox Live titles vs. the paid ones, then create a Free XBox Live filter and a Paid XBox Live filter. I don’t think we would mind much.
Whose Trial is it Anyways?
You might notice apps in the marketplace with titles like “My Fart App Professional Lite” or “Silicon Lamb Spleen Builder Free”. When you submit and app to the marketplace it can either be free or paid. If it’s a paid app you also have the option to submit it with Trial capabilities. It’s up to you to decide what you offer in the trial version but trial versions can be purchased from within the app so after someone trys out your app (for free) and wants to unlock the Super Secret Obama Spy Ring Level, they can just go to the marketplace from your app (if you built that functionality in) and upgrade to the paid version.
However it creates a rift of sorts when it comes to visibility. Some developers go the route of the paid app with a trial version, others decide to submit two apps instead of one. One app is the “Free” or “Lite” verions and the other is the paid version. Why go to the hassle of submitting two apps when you can just create a trial version in the same app? Again, visibility.
There’s no way to tell Paid apps with Trial versions and ones without (it’s an option, you don’t have to provide trial versions, although I think it’s a good idea). However there is a way to see the Free apps from the Paid ones so some submit the two apps and have the Free version have links to buy the paid one (again through the Marketplace tasks in the API).
What we as developers need for visibility is a new filter. Trial. That’s it. It would simply filter on Paid apps that have trial capabilities and surface up those apps just like the free ones. If Microsoft added this filter to the marketplace, it would eliminate the need for people to submit their “Free” and “Lite” versions and make it easier for the developer not to have to maintain two systems. I mean, is it really that hard? Can’t be any more difficult than the XBox Live Filter that’s already there.
Location is Everything
The last thing on my bucket list is about location. When I launch Zune I’m running in my native location setting, Canada. What’s great is that I navigate to the Travel Tools section where I have one of my apps and behold the splendour that I see:
There are my apps in the number 1 and number 4 slot for top selling in that category. I show it to my wife to make up for the sleepless nights writing this stuff and we dance around and celebrate.
Then I change my location on my operation system to United States and re-launch Zune. WTF?
My flight app has slipped to the 10th spot (I’m only showing 4 across here out of the 7 in Zune) and my border check app that was #1 is now in the 32nd spot! End of celebration.
Not only is relevance being looked at here, I value the comments people make on may apps as do most developers. I want to respond to them and show them that I’m listening. The next version of my border app will provide multiple camera angles. However when I’m running in my native Canada location, I only see two reviews. Changing over to United States I see fourteen! While there are tools out there to provide with you a unified view, I shouldn’t have to rely on them. My own Zune desktop software should allow me to see everything.
I realize that some developers will submit an app and only target it for some locations and that’s their choice. However I shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to see what apps are ahead of mine, or see people comments and ratings.
Another proposal. Either unify the marketplace (i.e. when I’m looking at it show me everything combined) or let me choose a filter. I think the first option might be difficult as you’re trying to average out top selling apps across all markets and have to deal with some apps that have been omitted from some markets. Although I think you could come up with a set of use cases that would handle that, maybe that’s too much work. At the very least, let us developers view the markets in a drop down or something from within the Zune desktop. Having to shut down Zune, change our location, and re-launch Zune to see other perspectives is just too onerous.
A Call to Action
These are just one mans opinion. Do you agree? Disagree? Feel hungry for a bacon sandwich? Let everyone know via the comments below. Perhaps someone from Microsoft will be reading and take some of these ideas under advisement. Maybe not, but at least let’s get the word out that we really want to see some change. Egypt can do it, why not WP7 developers!