Sales and Trailers

Windows Phone 7 launched today! Nifty! Most of the reports seem to indicate that the Canadian carriers don’t really have units available at retail. Oh well, I can wait.

Now that I have a game out on the marketplace, I can shift my attention to the next important thing: constantly checking on how the game is doing. Unfortunately, this is nearly impossible to do! It turns out that Microsoft won’t be providing download or sales data for app developers until the end of January 2011. That kinda sucks for anybody wanting to base decisions on the performance of the marketplace as well as for those of us who just want to know when we’ve made our first dollar.

To compensate for this shortcoming, Microsoft has partnered (more) with PreEmptive Solutions, makers of Dotfuscator, to provide analytic tools to WP7 developers for free (until March 2011). At first I wasn’t particularly interested in this, as the idea of adding tracking information into my game seemed to be more trouble than it would be worth. However, the potential insight gained is hard to ignore, so I spent a good chunk of today working with Dotfuscator and Runtime Intelligence.

To spoil the story, I still don’t have it working. It seems this is kind of a last-minute arrangement between the two companies, as you need to ask for the tools rather than simply downloading them and the supporting documentation is rather lacking. The process is also a bit cumbersome, as data can take hours to process, making development and testing pretty slow. To rub salt in the wound, I ran into a bug in the Dotfuscator software that stopped me altogether. Normally all of this would be enough to make me drop it altogether but there were a few saving graces:

  1. There actually aren’t many (if any) alternatives for non-Silverlight applications.
  2. The instrumentation UI and reporting portal are quite powerful. I can think of a lot of interesting telemetry to capture.
  3. The support provided by PreEmptive is impressive.

On that last point, an engineer from PreEmptive was lurking in the AppHub forums and was able to help me out with the bug I encountered. If all goes well (I’m waiting on a patch), I should be able to wrap up basic telemetry tomorrow and probably submit an update.

Since it seems like nobody else has done so, I plan on posting a full walkthrough of what is necessary to get basic usage and sales tracking in an XNA-based WP7 game using Dotfuscator and Runtime Intelligence. I’ve got basic usage reports working – I just need to add in some custom data to allow me to track unique full-licenses.

Lastly, since all-text posts are lame, here’s new promo trailer I made for Zombie Accountant today:

About Ben Kane
I'm a game developer with a heart of gold.

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