One of the biggest alternatives to Google Play is the Amazon App Store. Amazon has a huge user base and their Kindle Fire devices are more than capable of playing your GameMaker projects.
Signing up with Amazon couldn't be easier. Just go to their App Distribution page and simply sign in if you have an Amazon account already, or sign up if you do not. There is no registration fee and all you have to do is go to the Settings page and fill in the necessary personal details as well as those of your company (should you have one). Note that if you wish to monetise your apps and games, you should add in your bank details too, so make sure that you have your IBAN and Swift code available as these will be needed.
Once that has been done, you need to go to the main "Home" screen where you can see the latest announcements and the "Dashboard" for your uploaded apps (empty just now!). Click on the Add a New App button to get started.
Adding Your App
You will be asked what kind of app you are wanting to add, and this can be either:
- Mobile Web
- PC & Mac
In this case you want to select Android. This will then take you to the main submissions page where you need to fill in the basic details for the submission.
This tab deals with the basic information that is need for your app. The following fields must be filled in:
- App Title: The display name for your app (obligatory)
- App SKU: The SKU is a unique identifier that must be added to identify your app. The SKU always follows the reverse URL format of com.companyname.appname, for example "com.mcsweeneygames.catchthehaggis", and all characters must be lower case.
- Category: The app category that you want to use to broadly define your app. Select the most appropriate from the list. You may also be given the option to add Category Refinements based on the choice you make to further narrow down the definition.
- Customer Support Contact: Checking the box marked Use my default support information will tell Amazon to use the default support email and url that you supplied when registering, but if you wish to have something independant for each app then you can un-check this which will then make the following options available too:
- Customer Support Email Address: The email address where people can contact you for product support.
- Customer Support Phone: A telephone number for support issues.
- Customer Support Website: The website for support issues.
Once you are happy with the details provided, click the Save button to continue. Should there be any problem with the information provided, the problem fields will be marked and you will be given an opportunity to resolve the issues and continue again.
You will now be taken to the app overview screen where you can revise the information given and start to go through the checklist of actions before publishing:
We'll go through each of the sections of the checklist but note that from this point on you can leave the Amazon developer portal at any time and come back and continue where you left off. You also do not have to do each of the listed items in the order they are listed and can, for example, fill out the description then go back and fill in the pricing and availability later.
Availability And Pricing
This tab deals with the availability of your app, and the first thing you should do is select the country where you wish it to be sold. In general, you would leave this as "All countries where Amazon sells apps", but if your app is region specific then it may be that you want to choose the countries where it can be sold.
After that you can select to have your app listed as free or give it a price. Should you choose to give it a price, you will have to select a base currency and add the value in that currency to the field, then (when you click outside of the form) Amazon will automatically calculate an exchange for the other available currencies. If you are not happy with the values that Amazon gives, you can click the "I'll set my own prices"button and then edit the prices that have been set previously.
Amazon request that you also inform them of any other platforms that may have had the app released previously. If you click the yes button, you will be required to add a date for when the app was available. If you released the app on multiple platforms, you should add the date that it was originally released on the very first platform.
The final option "When would you like publishing to start" is so you can add a launch date for your app. Note that your app will have to be accepted after final submission first and that this may take some time (a few days to a week usually), so make sure that the launch date takes this into consideration. Leave this blank if you have no special launch date requirements, in which case it will be published to the store as soon as it passes the submission process.
When you are finished click Save and continue to the next tab.
As the name of the tab implies, here you must supply Amazon with all the written information that is to be associated with your app. This includes a short promotional description, a larger page description and then some "bullet" points where you can list any outstanding features of your game. After that you can add some tags too, which will help when it comes to people searching for an app from the Amazon store.
When you are happy with the text you input in the appropriate fields, you can click on the Save button to continue, or you can click on the button labelled Save and add a translation. If you select the latter, your base text will be saved, but a new tab will open where you can select another language and supply Amazon with a translation of the original text. These translated texts will be shown on the region-specific Amazon App Stores.
Images And Multimedia
This section needs little explanation... It's where you add the promotional images for your app, and each section details the size and type of image that you should upload and the uses that it will be put to. You may even upload a video of your app, but note that if the file size is greater than 30MB you should use the FTP uploader (for more information, click the link that is supplied on the page)
Giving your game appropriate content ratings is incredibly important as, if you fail to supply the correct ones, your app could be pulled from the store or your submission could fail. Basically, these ratings are used by Amazon to "target" your app at a given public audience and so you should try to be as precise as possible, since you do not want your beautifully crafted childrens puzzler to be aimed at an 18+ audience only!
When you have selected the appropriate ratings for your app, you should also click on any of the extra warnings that your app may contain gambling, advertisements etc... Then click on the Save button when you are done.
This tab is for uploading your *.apk file and setting the necessary permissions and support options. Below are listed each of the options with a brief explanation of what they are for:
Apply Amazon DRM?: For each app that you submit to Amazon, you can choose to apply DRM or make your app available without any rights management constraints. However, GameMaker:Studio does not currently have the necessary options to permit this so you must select No.
App Store Certificate Hashes: There is nothing here for you to change, and this section is purely informative as it shows all the different security hashes that are generated by Amazon to be used instead of your Amazon Developer account details.
Binary File: Click here and browse to the created *.apk file to upload your app to Amazon. This can take a few minutes, during which you will not be able to continue... so be patient! Note that you can also choose to use the FTP uploader should your app file be larger than 30MB, and once the file has been uploaded, you can check the manifest to see that everything is in order.
Device Support: Generally you can leave all these options checked, but if your app is designed specifically for phones and/or has a low resolution (800 x 480 or less), then you may wish to disable the Kindle Fire HD.
Language Suppport: This section is for informing users of the languages that your app supports, so if you have more than one language option in your game you should tick it here.
Export Compliance: This is a legal formality that is required by Amazon since they are an American based company. Failure to tick this will mean that your app cannot be submitted.
Use Amazon Maps Redirection: This only needs to be checked if you are using Google Maps in any capacity (from an extension)as it will redirect the extension function calls to use the Amazon Maps API instead of the Google Maps one.
Binary Alias: This is the unique name that you give the uploaded *.apk file. It can be useful to distinguish between different versions of the same game (should you wish to have an HD version and a normal version, for example). In general, if you do not plan to have multiple versions, you can use the same identifier here as the SKU code entered in the General Information tab.
Testing instructions: This text box is for you (the developer) to leave messages relating to specific functions and devices that your game should be tested on. Initially, you should not need to use this, but if your app is not permitted or it's submission is marked as "pending", then you have should received an email outlining the issues found. In these cases you would fix the issues and re-upload the *.apk, then fill in this section with the specific information for testing to see that the problem has been resolved. For example - "Please test specifically on Kindle Fire. This is a build in response to issues described in your test report: "Use of the Settings Soft Keys (Top menu bar such as volume, device options, etc) causes the app to exit."
With all that filled out correctly, you can now press Save to store the information.
Submitting Your App
If all is correct, you should see the three tabs each have a green tick on them at the top of the screen:
NOTE! You can still change information at this point!
It is very important to revise everything carefully at this point, as you can still edit all the information that you have provided. Once you submit the app for approval, this will no longer be the case, so better get it right the first time... Once you have reviewed everything and are happy with the information provided, hit the Submit button!
The Approval Process
Your app could take some time to get approved, but the main dashboard of your developer account will show the status of the app at every stage. Each of the different messages are listed below:
- Incomplete: You have not yet completed your app submission. The app is missing some of the fields required for submission to Amazon.
- Ready to Submit: The app is ready to be submitted to Amazon. You have full access to change the metadata and binary until you click “submit.”
- Submitted: The app has been submitted for review, and it can no longer be edited. At this time you can cancel the request for review and continue to edit your app.
- Under Review: The app is being reviewed by Amazon and can no longer be edited.
- Approved: The app has completed at least one stage of the testing and content review process. It may soon be ready for publication at Amazon.
- Live: The app is now live on the store.
- Pending: When the app is in this status, you will receive an e-mail from our team explaining why the review process for your app was paused and asking you to perform some action. You must address the relevant metadata or binary issues before your app can successfully continue through the process.
- Rejected: The app has not passed the review process. You will receive an e-mail from Amazon explaining the reasons for the failed approval.
- Suppressed: The app was live at one point but currently is no longer on the store.
Once this process is complete, your app will either be live on the store or require some further action from you to fix an issue that has been found. If there is an issue, then the Amazon team will inform you of it and explain what needs to be done to fix it. If the app is Live then congratulations! Your game can now be bought, downloaded, and enjoyed by the millions of Amazon users from the Appstore!