When first building an app or a game, developers naturally reach a point where they have to think about possible destinations to publish their content. On the one hand, supporting multiple app stores allows developers to reach a broader customer base and increase revenue. On the other hand, for most developers, being available across multiple stores and systems usually means an increase in resources required to maintain and update their apps.
How much extra work and resources are really required? How do developers successfully achieve version parity across stores? To answer these questions and more, we talked with German game developer b-interaktive to share their insights.
Founded in 2011, game developer b-interaktive consists of a team of 16 working together in Germany and Poland. They describe their main pillars as designing mobile games in cooperation with some of the top brands and partners, focusing on free-to-play social games connecting players all over the world and publishing their mobile apps across all stores and systems worldwide.
Their most popular game Dice Clubs has grown to a player base of 300,000 unique users and is available on the Amazon Appstore.
Planning ahead to achieve parity
One key factor that can be identified when working with multiple stores or operating systems is proper planning, and b-interaktive confirms this. When asked how they manage to ensure parity across the various stores and systems they serve, their lead developer replied, “We’re managing updates by assigning specific owners and scheduling updates ahead of time.” While delays and minor differences might still happen, proper planning enables them to keep these occurrences to a minimum. “Of course, small, unscheduled hotfixes are sometimes necessary but our testing procedures usually allow us to catch and fix all the little bugs before we release a version to the market.”
Another key factor is the app itself – depending on how the app is set up, a variety of updates might be completed within the app without the need to upload new files to any of the stores. For some parts of their apps, b-interaktive is able to push updates without having to upload a new APK. “These parts represent, however, the minority and are usually connected to the marketing aspects of our games.”
Still, the ability to push in-app updates is something developers should carefully consider. It is a sensible way to reduce resources required to update apps across various stores and platforms, as they can be done for all different stores and platforms at the same time.
“We’re doing it like this to smoothly switch time-limited content like promotions, events, or holiday-related graphics. It just wouldn’t be efficient to force an update for all users just to inform them that there’s a sale in the merchandise store happening right now or that we’ve started the holiday season. We’re trying to limit the application updates to the regular introductions of new features and content. This is very important both to us and our users who trust us to keep the game fun and fresh. When there’s an update available, they know that it’ll include something interesting.”
Updating apps for Amazon Appstore
Of course, when updating an app, developers need to consider specific requirements for their respective store and location. For instance, b-interaktive points out that Amazon Fire tablets support specific services like Amazon in-app purchasing libraries and Amazon Device Messaging that they want to make use of in order to be able to efficiently interact with Amazon customers.
Looking at the process of updating their app for the Amazon Appstore, the team at b-interaktive highlights: “The update process is very simple and doesn’t require any additional time on our end. There’s also no additional testing procedures – we’re just preparing a dedicated Amazon package and testing it for one to three days. We’re using Amazon tools to test the unique Amazon features like IAPs and push notifications but otherwise, the entire procedure doesn’t differ much from other app stores.”
While there are unique changes and adaptations required for their apps to run properly on Amazon Appstore, there are a lot of reasons to be available on Fire tablets for b-interaktive. “Amazon Fire tablets are very important to us because we value the Amazon users. They spend between 40-70 minutes in Dice Clubs every day.”
Get started with Amazon Appstore
Amazon offers several tools and documents to get you started. You can test your existing APK within minutes to help you understand potentially required adaptations (if any). The Developer Portal also offers a variety of extensive documents to help you implement Amazon specific services, such as Login with Amazon, Amazon Device Messaging or the In-App Purchasing API.