In this article we will go through the steps required to submit your Windows 10 UWP game to the Microsoft Store. Before going through this, you will need to have set up your WIndows 10 development environment correctly for use with GameMaker: Studio, as explained in this article here:
With that done and a game finished and ready, we can start preparing it and then submit it to the store.
The Global Game Settings
First thing you'll need to do for your game is prepare the Global Game Settings in GameMaker: Studio. If you have exported previously to any of the Windows targets then the majority of options will be familiar to you and if not then they are all covered in the Manual here: Windows UWP Tab. Note that the Package Name we will be changing later so don't worry too much about that part.
Setting Up your Game Listing
The next step is actually to put aside GameMaker: Studio and get onto the Microsoft Dev. Center and sign up for an account if you haven't already. Note that creating an account requires the payment of a one-off fee of (at the time of writing) between $19 and $99 depending on whether you are a company or an individual.
Once you have your account and everything set up, you can move on to preparing a game listing for the game you want to sell. The way things are set up it's essentially a three step process:
- Reserve an app name for your game and prepare the initial listing
- Sign your app and upload to the store listing
- Finish the listing information and then publish
Once published it won't actually be visible to anyone until it passes the Microsoft review process.
When you get to your developer dashboard, you'll see on the left a button that says "Create A New App". You should click this to begin setting up your game listing. You will first be required to reserve a name for your game, and check it against the database of games already published. This ensures that your game will not have the same name as anything else, and the final name will also be used to generate your PFX file (more on this later).
Once you have reserved your App Name, you will then be prompted to set up the Pricing and Availability:
This section is pretty straightforward and gives you the opportunity to monetise your game or leave it as a free game. You can also limit the game to either desktop or mobile devices, as well as set a publish date.
After you have filled this page out you can click on Save and you will be taken to the next section which is the App Properties page.
Most of this page is related to getting the age rating for your game and supplying any certificates that you may have. Note that Microsoft have a deal with PEGI and ESRB whereby you can create certificates using some online tools:
You can find more information on the ratings requested from the MS article here:
You will also be asked to supply hardware settings which will normally include keyboard, mouse and touchscreen, but there are other options should you need them.
Once you save these details, you need to go back to Visual Studio and GameMaker: Studio to get the PFX file and add that to your project.
Creating Your PFX Profile Certificate
To upload your game to the store, it needs to be signed using a PFX profile certificate file. This has to built in Visual Studio, so open VS now and create a new blank UWP app, giving it the name of your game.
When naming your project, take note too of the project path (highlighted in the image below) as that is where we are going to have to look for the certificate file later.
This will create your app solution with the name of your game. You now need to associate this project with the game name you have reserved on the MS Store, which is done from the Project Menu > Store > Associate App With The Store.
This will open a Wizard where you have to sign into the MS Store and then choose the app ID that you've made previously for the game. It is very important to note that here you will be given a unique Package Name for the game as well and you will need to remember this for later (take a screenshot, for example).
Now you need to copy the PFX file that was generated by VS for the game to a safe place (make a backup too). You can find the file in the Solution Explorer of VS (usually on the right, with a name like "yourgamename_StoreKey.pfx"), and if you right click on it and select Properties you will see in the properties window the full path to the file which can then be used to locate it for copying.
This, along with the package name that was generated, now has to be linked to your game in the Global Game Settings of GameMaker: Studio:
You should now clear the compiler cache (the green "broom" icon beside the play buttons in GMS) and then click the Create Executable button to generate your UWP appx package for uploading to the store.
Uploading The Package
You can now go back to the app listing and complete step 3, which is where you upload the package and have Microsoft validate it:
If all has gone well, then you should now see your package listed along with details like the version number, file size and language. If you have any errors, then make sure you are using the correct version of Visual Studio (see here), that you have installed it correctly with support for UWP (see here), and that the package name matches that which was generated when you created the PFX file previously.
Once your APPX has been uploaded and verified you can then continue on to give the package description. Here you will need to have prepared a LOT of art assets, as the description requires numerous screenshots and icons. Here is a brief list of what you'll need:
- Desktop - PNG file, less than 2MB that is 1366 x 768 pixels or larger
- Mobile - PNG file, less than 2MB that is either 768 x 1280, 720 x 1280, or 480 x 800 pixels
App Tile Icon - This is a 300x300 PNG file that is used by legacy Windows 8 apps
Promo Artwork - A great number of different sized visual assets for different promotional purposes, authored as PNG:
- 358 x 173 pixels
- 358 x 358 pixels
- 1000 x 800 pixels
- 414 x 180 pixels
- 414 x 468 pixels
- 558 x 558 pixels
- 558 x 756 pixels
- 846 x 468 pixels
- 2400 x 1200 pixels
Submitting The Game
You have one further optional step to take of providing notes for the certification team before submitting your game. These notes can be used to help explain any systems in your game, or anything that you think may help it pass certification. After that you can then go back to the main submission page and you should see the button "Submit To Store" is now available:
Clicking this will submit your game to the store and you must now wait for it to pass the certification process before it is published. If there are any problems you will receive an email outlining what they were and you can re-submit the game, but if there were no problems then after a few days the game will be published (or it will be set to be published on the date specified).