Once you have finished your game, you will obviously want to publish it for other people to play. To do this, you will first need to sign up as a developer on the Windows Phone Developer pages, something that will also require a yearly fee to be paid (note that this is separate from the the Windows 8 Developers portal, so if you wish to create games for both platforms you will need to pay the fee for both).
WARNING! When building your final game package, you must have the "Windows Phone Devices" section of the Preferences in GameMaker:Studio set to "Device" otherwise your submission to the Windows Store will fail.
When you have signed up for a developers account, the very first thing you should do is fill out all the personal and financial details that Microsoft require from you to be able to sell your apps. To do this you need to click on the Dashboard button at the top of the page, then select Account from the options that are along the left hand of the screen. From there you can see the details that are required, each with their own edit button to add information.
When filling out this section, ensure that you have previously gotten your tax details and your bank details, specifically your IBAN and Swift code otherwise you will not be able to monetise your apps.
Another thing to note for monetising your apps is that you must have a Tax Profile set up and have your VAT Info up to date. This means that you will have to supply Microsoft with your tax number as well as fill out the necessary documentation for the North American government. Thankfully this is all handled by Microsoft and you will be presented with an online version of the necessary documentation, filled in based on the details that you provide, which you will then have to sign digitally (with a password that you are emailed) before submitting. Once this has been done, you may have to wait a day or so before you can upload an app for sale.
Finally, it is worth looking at the option to sign up for the Microsoft Ad Network. If you plan on having advertising in your games, then it is worthwhile signing on to the Microsoft Advertising PubCenter. this will enable you to activate ads in your Windows Phone games and recieve payment for them (note that they will require your tax details again for this service as well as a valid bank account).
Uploading Your App
To upload your app to the store, you should click the Dashboard button then select the Submit App option from the left, which will then take you to the following page:
You can only click the first button labelled App Info at this point, so select that to be taken to the principle page for your app
The App Info page requires you to supply the following information:
- App Alias - This is the internal app store name. You can make this anything you wish, but it is recommended that you name your app the same as you have it in the Global Game Settings.
- Category - Choose the category for your game from the short, general list.
- Sub-Category - Further define the type of app you are uploading. Both this and the Category (above) will be used to classify your app on the store and for searching.
After that basic information, you can give your app a Base Price (assuming you have supplied the necessary documentation as mentioned above). This base price is what Microsoft will use to define the prices across all the different countries where their store will be selling your app. Note that if you wish your app to be free you can leave this as $0.00.
You can also signal your app as having trial mode, which means that your app can be played for a certain period, or with certain restrictions, until the user buys the full app. It is up to you to set up the in app purchase and limitations from with GameMaker:Studio, and the function winphone_license_trial_version can then be used to check the state of the purchase to unlock features etc...
The next set of options relate to the marketing of your game, and unless your game deals with subjects that may be considered offensive by certain countries (for example, it has references to alcohol), you can leave this is Distribute to all markets. For more information on marketing and country limits, please see this article from the Microsoft Library on Content policies for Windows Phone.
With this basic info included, you can now go on to the next section by clicking the Save button at the bottom of the page, but please note that there are a couple of advanced options that can be set here by clicking on the More Options tag.
More App Info Options
From this sub-section of the App Info you can get at some advanced options for your app:
The first part of this section, Distribution Channels, gives you the option to publish to the store or to create a Beta app. If you select Beta you will then have to add in the email address' of all the participants in the beta testing of your game (they must all be registered with Microsoft) and you can then distribute your app to these select few. Note that this option will require you to re-submit the app once the beta testing stage has finalised.
If you choose the Public Store, you can also conduct a type of open beta by choosing to hide the app from people searching the store. This means that any searches for the app or for the tags you have associated with it will not show your game, but you can distribute the link yourself for the game and invite anyone to test it. In this way you can still do app testing and will not need to re-submit the app when you wish to show it publicly as it is a simple thing to un-flag this option later.
The next part is for the actual publishing time of your app. The default option here is Automatically, meaning that the moment your app has passed the certification process it will be "live" on the store, however if you wish to launch your app on several platforms or are waiting for a specific date, you can choose to publish Manually at the time of your choosing.
Finally, depending on what your app actually is for, you may be able to add in ratings certificates. This is not an essential part of the process, but it will certainly help people to identify your app and decide whether it is apt for their situation.