Developer Console
Amazon Developer Blogs

Amazon Developer Blogs

Showing posts tagged with Fire tablets

September 30, 2015

Jesse Freeman

The London Amazon Appstore Developer Summit is designed to provide you with insights into the Amazon eco-system, emerging user interfaces that are driving new user behaviors, and new business models that are opening up opportunities for customers and the developer community. The event will include developer guest speakers, from disruptive start-ups to established consumer brands who are at the forefront of innovation in their market segments.   

Here are is a sneak peek of some of the key items on the agenda:

Bringing Apps and Games to the Living Room

In this session, we cover what's needed to bring your Android app or game to Fire TV. We walk you through controller support for a game scenario (buttons and analog sticks), controller support for UI (selection, moving between menu items, invoking the keyboard), and how to account for the form factor (overscan, landscape, device and controller detection). By the end of this session, you’ll be able to understand what you need to do if you want to build or modify your own app to work on a TV.

An introduction to using Amazon Web Services and the Alexa Skills Kit to Build Voice Driven Experiences

Come learn firsthand how to build for Amazon Echo and Amazon Voice Service enabled devices using the Alexa Skills Kit and Amazon Web Services. This session will walk through using Amazon Echo and how to build your first Alexa Skill using both AWS Lamda and AWS Beanstalk. We'll also take a look at how to monitor your new Alexa Skill using AWS CloudWatch and how to submit it for certification so it's available to customers later this year.

[Read More]

September 17, 2015

Mike Hines

Amazon today introduced all-new Fire tablets, including a new 7” tablet that sets an entirely new standard for a tablet under $50. The new Fire tablets are designed from the ground up for entertainment with a 7”, 8” or 10” display, an incredibly thin and light design, quad-core processor, front- and rear-facing cameras, and up to 128GB of expandable storage. The all-new Fire tablets also introduce Fire OS 5 “Bellini”, which brings the best entertainment experience on any tablet, with an updated user interface, deep integration of Amazon-exclusive services, and hundreds of new and upgraded features and platform updates. Key upgrades and enhancements include:

[Read More]

June 19, 2015

Mike Hines

Starting today, developers have the opportunity to participate in a Developer Preview of Fire OS 5, the next generation Android-based operating system that powers Fire tablets, Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. And because Fire OS 5 is based on Android Lollipop, we can make this update while preserving even more compatibility with existing Android apps than ever before. This means that even more of your apps should work on Fire devices with no additional engineering effort. There are several ways you can participate in the Fire OS 5 Developer Preview.

Participate in the Fire OS5 Developer Preview

To ensure your app is available to millions of customers on the next generation of Amazon devices, you can now participate in the Fire OS 5 Developer Preview. As an Amazon Developer, we’re offering you early access to Fire OS 5. You can now see your app running on a Fire HD 6 or Fire HD 7 tablet, and identify any app compatibility issues well in advance of our new Fire OS launch later this year.

To participate in the Fire OS 5 Developer Preview, click here.


 

Free Fire OS5 Compatibility Testing in 90 Seconds or Less

Amazon Testing Service is a free tool that allows you to test your app for compatibility on Fire and Android devices. We’ve updated Amazon Testing Service to provide feedback on your apps compatibility with Fire OS 5 and Android Lollipop. To test your app, simply drag and drop your Android APK into the App Testing Service on the Amazon Developer Portal homepage page. In about 90 seconds, you will get compatibility results for Fire OS 5 and Android Lollipop. 



 

Want To Learn More?

Now is the time to get started. Check out the resources below to learn more about Fire OS5 and the Amazon Appstore

         Register for a Free Amazon Developer account

         Sign up for the Fire OS5 Developer Preview

         Learn more about Fire OS 5

Want Amazon Developer blogs delivered to your inbox? Stay in the loop on the latest industry best practices, Amazon promotions, and new launches by subscribing to our weekly blog summary here.

May 12, 2015

Judith Hoffmann

 Sign up to the Amazon Developer Program for free. Learn how to easily submit your app or game to Fire TV and Fire tablets, how to publish HTML5 apps and how to test your APK on the Developer Portal.

During the indie developer showcase, hosted by Amazon as part of Quo Vadis game conference during International Games Week Berlin, local developers shared with us their experience getting their games onto the Amazon Appstore, as well as useful tips for other developers.

 Meet the Developers

German developer SlashGames creates high-quality browser and mobile games, as well as consulting in software development, software engineering and producing. For Amazon, they showcased Freudbot, a single player mobile game following a supermarket employee and giving him ‘good’ advice to overcome his problems.

Black Pants Studio demoed their game About Love, Hate and the Other Ones, a fun puzzle game in which, according to PR Manager Florian Masuth, you “influence your surroundings by the force of hate and the power of love [to] find a way through caves and ice, castles and factories”.

 

Berlin-based publisher Exozet implement popular board games, such as Catan, and have newly implemented Carcasonne for Fire TV as showcase especially for this event. Their premium and free-to-play games are available on all major platforms, from mobile over console to facebook and browser.

Amongst the developers we had Black Moon Design, hailing from near-by Poland, with their fast action, HTML5 game Aliens Attack which “runs really well on FireTV” according to founder Robert Podgorski. Inspired by C64 and classic sci-fi movies from the 60s, Black Moon Design’s mission is to bring fun to players’ lives.

Also from Poland are NowaHutaGames, who presented their game Rounded Strategy. Wanting to make strategy games accessible to everyone, NowaHutaGames target casual and mid-core players instead of the usual hard-core gamers. As a result, Rounded Strategy is a mobile-first strategy game with an extremely low entry point.

Unavailable for video interviews, but with great games nonetheless, were Mimimi Productions with their games daWindci, a highly praised 2.5D mobile puzzle game, and Ooops! Noah is Gone, inspired by the same-named animated movie in which the cuddly characters go on a great adventure and form genuine friendships. The 3-man team Studio Fizbin, focusing on story-based games and original and unique characters, worlds and tales, showcased their tablet game the Inner World, which won the Casual Connect “Indie Prize 2013”, amongst other awards. Finally, Hamburg-based Threaks presented their demo game Beatbuddy on Fire TV, though the game is not yet publicly available on Amazon devices.

Learn From their Experience

Echoed by all developers that we interviewed was the claim that launching on Amazon Fire TV was very easy. Porting their Android app onto the Amazon Appstore was “like a breeze”, explains Jakub Bladek from NowaHutaGames and adds: “We did it in an hour.” Black Moon Design had a similar experience; after adding Gamepad support, “all of a sudden it worked like charms”. Using the App Testing Service, Nick Prühs from Slash Games remarks that “it worked without us doing anything. […] We were live in an hour or two.”

For Black Pants Studio, apart from porting being easy, the showcase represented a first introduction to the Amazon platform: “Being approached by Amazon made us realize that for new games we can think about putting them straight onto your store when we launch.” Similarly, Robert Podgorski from Back Moon Design points out that the Amazon Appstore is a valid alternative platform for Android games and adds that “Making games for Fire TV and seeing them on the big screen is really good, so consider that.” Linda Kerkhoff, developer at Exozet, seconds that and suggests that developers consider the living room as a new market to attract customers, as “it’s not such an effort to build the game from the device to the TV.”

Finally, Nick Prühs emphasizes the importance of having a good core mechanic. “What is really important is that you iterate very soon and very often”, Prühs explains, “make sure the core is fun and then iterate.” Jakub Bladek goes a step further. He admits that they screwed up their first version and therefore got two bad ratings, so his advice to other developers it to “be sure to have your first release finished 100%” before publishing.

 

April 22, 2015

David Isbitski

The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is the largest annual gathering of professional video game developers providing a place for the industry to collaborate, network and share best practices for creating compelling game experiences. This year Amazon hosted a full Developer Day with sessions that covered building Android games for our full line of devices, Amazon Echo, Fire Tablets, Fire TV and Fire Phone, how to build better cloud gaming experiences, reaching fans with Twitch, and applying in-app monetization best practices based on Amazon's IAP data.

These sessions were previously only available to GDC attendees, and we’re excited to announce that we’ve made all of the Amazon GDC Developer Day sessions freely available online. Enjoy!

An Overview of the Amazon Devices and Services for Game Developers
David Isbitski, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
Alf Tan, Head of Games Business Development, Amazon
Vlad Suglobov, CEO, G5 Entertainment

An overview of Amazon's current developer ecosystem.  Learn how you can take advantage of AWS services specifically targeted for Game Developers, Amazon's Appstore and the new line of consumer Fire devices like Amazon Echo, Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire tablets, as well as monetization services such as in-app purchasing.  Plus, hear how G5 entertainment has had success on the Amazon platform from G5 CEO Vlad Suglobov.    

Top Tips for Porting Unity Games to Fire Devices
Jesse Freeman, Developer Evangelist, Amazon   
In this talk, we cover important tips for porting Unity games over to Fire TV, Fire tablets and Fire phone. Through code examples, we'll demo how to support multiple resolutions for pixel perfect Orthographic and Perspective Cameras, abstracting player input to support keyboard, controller and touch, and optimization tips for C# for the best performance. We'll also show how to deploy to our devices and get your game up and running on Fire OS. You'll walk away knowing what it takes to publish to the Amazon Appstore and help expand your game's user base.

How to Evolve Players into Fans
Peter Heinrich, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
We’ve analyzed the top mobile games to see what best practices make them stand out from the crowd. Several trends emerging now will amplify those best practices, and games will have more opportunity than ever to excel. In the future, the top games will have fully realized fan bases that will drive their user acquisition and engagement engines. That fan base will include players but also content creators, advocates and potential new customers — this will open up a wider range of monetization options.  Hear more about how top mobile games drive greater engagement and revenue and learn how to you can do this with your own game.

Build and Deploy Your Mobile Game with AWS
Dhruv Thukral, Gaming Solutions Architect, Amazon
Tara Walker, Technical Evangelist, Amazon 
Developing a successful mobile game today is about more than just the game:  Users expect backend services like user authentication, downloadable content, and social features. Using our AWS Mobile SDK for iOS and Android, it’s easier than ever to build a game with these services.  This session will provide a step-by-step approach to add features to your game such as user identity management, dynamic content updates, cross-platform data sync, and more.  We’ll demonstrate how to use the AWS Mobile SDK to securely interact with services such as Cognito, DynamoDB, S3, and EC2.  Finally, we’ll provide a few common architecture patterns and scalability tips for AWS game backends.

How We Made a Game No Fun
Mike Hines, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
There are lots of suggestions about how to make a game fun.  Best practices are everywhere, but you can't just follow them blindly.  To create a fun game, you have to figure out how best practices integrate into your specific game.  Watch what we did wrong, and what we learned along the way.       

Connecting with Your Customers - Building Successful Mobile Games through the Power of AWS Analytics
Nate Wiger, Principal Gaming Solutions Architect, Amazon
Free to play is now the standard for mobile and social games.  But succeeding in free-to-play is not easy:  You need in-depth data analytics to gain insight into your players so you can monetize your game.  Learn how to leverage new features of AWS services such as Elastic MapReduce, Amazon S3, Kinesis, and Redshift to build an end-to-end analytics pipeline.  Plus, we’ll show you how to easily integrate analytics with other AWS services in your game.

Deploying a Low-Latency Multiplayer Game Globally: Loadout
3:30pm-4:15pm
Nate Wiger, Principal Gaming Solutions Architect, Amazon
This is a deep-dive straight into the guts of running a low-latency multiplayer game, such as a first-person shooter, on a global scale. We dive into architectures that enable you to split apart your back-end APIs from your game servers, and Auto Scale them independently.  See how to run game servers in multiple AWS regions such as China and Frankfurt, and integrate them with your central game stack.  We’ll even demo this in action, using AWS CloudFormation and Chef to deploy Unreal Engine game servers.
 

How Game Developers Reach New Customers with Twitch
4:15pm-5:15pm
Marcus Graham, Director of Community & Education at Twitch
Ernest Le, Director Publisher & Developer Partnerships at Twitch
Twitch is the largest live video platform and community for gamers with more than 100 million visitors per month. We want to connect gamers around the world by allowing them to broadcast, watch, and chat from everywhere they play.  In this session, learn how game developers are creating engaging experiences and reaching new customers via the Twitch platform.

Amazon Fire TV Games on Twitch

Garnett Lee and Tyler Cooper hosted a steam during GDC this year on Twitch. The guys were joined by representatives from 2K games for XCOM: Enemy Within, Tellate for Game of Thrones, Ep. 2, Tripwire for Killing Floor Calamity and ended the night with Hipster Whale and a Crossy Road competition! If you are a gamer interested in seeing first-hand what the current batch of Android games looks like on the big screen be sure check out the stream here

Ready to Submit Your App or Game?

For more information about getting started with the Amazon Appstore, Amazon Fire devices, or how to submit your game check out the following additional resources:

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

 

April 07, 2015

David Isbitski

Amazon is hosting a Developer Day on April 25th at the Cross Campus in Santa Monica, California. Amazon Developer Evangelists will share industry best practices and help mobile developers learn how to grow their app business via the Amazon Appstore. Amazon technology leaders will be on-hand to answer developer questions and lead talks on topics such as building apps and games for Android devices, BlackBerry,  Fire tablets, Fire phone, Amazon Fire TV, and how to build voice controlled experiences for Amazon Echo. Attendees will also learn best practices around how to make fun games and to market your game to influencers and build a fan base.

The format of the workshop will be split between morning lectures and afternoon “App Hours.” The App Hours will allow developers to get 1:1 support to publish and tests their own apps and games to the Amazon Appstore, guidance around building apps and games with Android, Unity and Xamarin, and hands on experience with the Amazon Mobile App SDK, Fire Phone SDK, Fire TV SDK and Amazon Echo SDK code samples. Developers will also be rewarded with Amazon gift cards for successful app submissions to the Amazon Appstore during the App Hours’ time period.

Already have an Android app? Bring your APK for a chance to win cool prizes! Click here to register now!

Agenda

Check-in and Breakfast
9:30am-10:00am

An Overview of the Amazon Devices and Services for Mobile Developers
10:00am-10:45am
David Isbitski, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
We will start the day off with an overview of Amazon's current developer ecosystem. Learn how you can take advantage of Amazon’s Mobile Apps SDK, Amazon's Appstore and the new line of consumer Fire devices like Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire tablets, as well as monetization services such as in-app purchasing.

Building Spoken Language Apps and Experiences for Amazon Echo
10:45am-11:45am
David Isbitski, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
Echo is a new device from Amazon designed around your voice. It's always on—just ask for information, music, news, weather, and more. Tucked under Echo's light ring is an array of seven microphones. When Echo detects the wake word, it lights up and streams audio to the cloud, where it leverages the power of Amazon Web Services to recognize and respond to your request. With the release of the developer SDK you can now build your own apps and experiences for Amazon Echo. This session will cover everything you need to know starting off with how to use the SDK, how to build your first app, and end with the app submission process.

Lunch
11:45am-12:00pm                       

How We Made a Game No Fun
12:00pm-12:45pm
Peter Heinrich, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
There are lots of suggestions about how to make a game fun.  Best practices are everywhere, but you can't just follow them blindly.  To create a fun game, you have to figure out how best practices integrate into your specific game.  Come see what we did wrong, and what we learned along the way.          

How to Evolve Players into Fans
12:45pm-1:30pm
Peter Heinrich, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
We’ve analyzed the top mobile games to see what best practices make them stand out from the crowd. Several trends emerging now will amplify those best practices, and games will have more opportunity than ever to excel. In the future, the top games will have fully realized fan bases that will drive their user acquisition and engagement engines. That fan base will include players but also content creators, advocates and potential new customers — this will open up a wider range of monetization options. Come see how top mobile games drive more engagement and revenue and learn how to you can do this with your own game.      

Break
1:30pm-1:45pm

App Hours
1:45pm-3:45pm
Get 1:1 support to publish and test apps and games to the Amazon Appstore. Learn how to build apps and games with Android, Unity and Xamarin. Get hands on experience with the Amazon Mobile App SDK, Fire Phone SDK, Fire TV SDK and Amazon Echo SDK code samples.

Raffle and Wrap-Up
3:45pm-4pm


Seating is limited so be sure to register for the event to reserve your spot. Hope to see you there!

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

 

February 25, 2015

Peter Heinrich

Do you have an idea for a great mobile game? Have you been following Jesse Freeman's blog series on creating games for the Amazon Appstore? Are you looking for inspiration to finally dive in and get started?

Thanks to the folks over at Scirra, now is the perfect time to fire up Construct 2 and turn your amazing idea into a working game—without programming. Scirra just launched their Build a Game Challenge, which rewards game developers for submitting their Construct 2 apps to the Amazon Appstore. From now until April 1, 2015, you can earn up to $100 toward the purchase of royalty free assets available from Scirra, like graphics, animations, sound effects, and music.

Fast, Fun, Powerful

Construct 2 is a drag-and-drop game creation tool that makes it easy to build 2D games based on HTML5. No coding is required, so even beginners can get started quickly. Experienced developers will find it flexible enough to support demanding requirements like complex behavior processing, graphical effects, and specialized event handling.

Worldwide Reach with Amazon

Once you have created your HTML5 game with Construct 2, you can publish it to Amazon's Appstore and make it available to millions of players around the world. Your game will be accessible in 236 countries and territories, and will appear in our store right alongside the native Android apps there. (Learn more about publishing web apps on Amazon.)

Turn That Game Idea into Reality

Don't put it off any longer! Take Scirra's Build a Game Challenge and bring your game idea to life. You will have fun doing it and even earn rewards along the way.

Not sure how to get started? Stay tuned for our upcoming blog series on building a game with Construct2.

Ready to Submit Your App or Game?

  • To learn more about the Amazon Appstore, click here
  • Click here to register for free as an Amazon Developer. 
  • Click here to download the Amazon Mobile SDK. 
  • Click here to submit your app

-peter (@peterdotgames)

 

February 19, 2015

David Isbitski

Amazon will be out at GDC San Francisco next month offering several opportunities to connect directly with you. Starting on Monday, March 2nd from 5:05pm to 5:30pm you can hear @MikeFHines talk about What Makes the Top 50 IAP Games Unique on the Amazon Appstore and lessons you can apply when generating revenue in your own games.

Then on Tuesday, March 3rd from 10am to 5:30pm we will be hosting an Amazon Developer Day covering games for Amazon Fire devices, how to build better cloud gaming experiences, reaching fans with Twitch, and applying in-app monetization best practices based on Amazon's IAP data. Technical evangelists from Amazon Appstore and AWS will be on hand to answer your questions as well as the Games Business Development team to discuss game promotion opportunities. We’ll also have devices for you to explore and test your games on, as well as a chance to win some Amazon Fire devices! Here is what the day’s agenda will look like. Click here to add a session to your GDC Scheduler.


An Overview of the Amazon Devices and Services for Game Developers
10am-10:45am

David Isbitski, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
Alf Tan, Head of Games Business Development, Amazon
Vlad Suglobov, CEO, G5 Entertainment

We will start the day off with an overview of Amazon's current developer ecosystem.  Learn how you can take advantage of AWS services specifically targeted for Game Developers, Amazon's Appstore and the new line of consumer Fire devices like Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick and Fire tablets, as well as monetization services such as in-app purchasing.  Plus, hear how G5 entertainment has had success on the Amazon platform from G5 CEO Vlad Suglobov.          

Top Tips for Porting Unity Games to Fire Devices
10:45am-11:30am

Jesse Freeman, Developer Evangelist, Amazon  
In this talk, we'll cover important tips for porting Unity games over to Fire TV, Fire tablets and Fire phone. Through code examples, we'll demo how to support multiple resolutions for pixel perfect Orthographic and Perspective Cameras, abstracting player input to support keyboard, controller and touch, and optimization tips for C# for the best performance. We'll also show how to deploy to our devices and get your game up and running on Fire OS. You'll walk away knowing what it takes to publish to the Amazon Appstore and help expand your game's user base.

How to Evolve Players into Fans
11:30am-12:00pm

Peter Heinrich, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
We’ve analyzed the top mobile games to see what best practices make them stand out from the crowd. Several trends emerging now will amplify those best practices, and games will have more opportunity than ever to excel. In the future, the top games will have fully realized fan bases that will drive their user acquisition and engagement engines. That fan base will include players but also content creators, advocates and potential new customers —  this will open up a wider range of monetization options.  Come see how top mobile games drive more engagement and revenue and learn how to you can do this with your own game.

Catered Lunch
12:00-12:30pm

Build and Deploy Your Mobile Game with AWS
12:30pm-1:30pm
Dhruv Thukral, Gaming Solutions Architect, Amazon
Tara Walker, Technical Evangelist, Amazon
Developing a successful mobile game today is about more than just the game:  Users expect backend services like user authentication, downloadable content, and social features. Using our AWS Mobile SDK for iOS and Android, it’s easier than ever to build a game with these services.  This session will provide a step-by-step approach to add features to your game such as user identity management, dynamic content updates, cross-platform data sync, and more.  We’ll demonstrate how to use the AWS Mobile SDK to securely interact with services such as Cognito, DynamoDB, S3, and EC2.  Finally, we’ll provide a few common architecture patterns and scalability tips for AWS game backends.

How We Made a Game No Fun
1:30pm-2:15pm

Mike Hines, Developer Evangelist, Amazon
There are lots of suggestions about how to make a game fun.  Best practices are everywhere, but you can't just follow them blindly.  To create a fun game, you have to figure out how best practices integrate into your specific game.  Come see what we did wrong, and what we learned along the way.       

Connecting with Your Customers - Building Successful Mobile Games through the Power of AWS Analytics
2:30pm-3:30pm

Nate Wiger, Principal Gaming Solutions Architect, Amazon
Free to play is now the standard for mobile and social games.  But succeeding in free-to-play is not easy:  You need in-depth data analytics to gain insight into your players so you can monetize your game.  Learn how to leverage new features of AWS services such as Elastic MapReduce, Amazon S3, Kinesis, and Redshift to build an end-to-end analytics pipeline.  Plus, we’ll show you how to easily integrate analytics with other AWS services in your game.

Deploying a Low-Latency Multiplayer Game Globally: Loadout
3:30pm-4:15pm

Nate Wiger, Principal Gaming Solutions Architect, Amazon
This is a deep-dive straight into the guts of running a low-latency multiplayer game, such as a first-person shooter, on a global scale. We dive into architectures that enable you to split apart your back-end APIs from your game servers, and Auto Scale them independently.  See how to run game servers in multiple AWS regions such as China and Frankfurt, and integrate them with your central game stack.  We’ll even demo this in action, using AWS CloudFormation and Chef to deploy Unreal Engine game servers.

How Game Developers Reach New Customers with Twitch
4:15pm-5:15pm
Marcus Graham, Director of Community & Education at Twitch
Ernest Le, Director Publisher & Developer Partnerships at Twitch

Twitch is the largest live video platform and community for gamers with more than 100 million visitors per month. We want to connect gamers around the world by allowing them to broadcast, watch, and chat from everywhere they play.  In this session, learn game developers are creating engaging experiences and reaching new customers via the Twitch platform.

Mobile Ads Team at GDC

The Mobile Ads Team will be at GDC and has created a special offer just for attendees!

While attending GDC anyone who integrates the Amazon Mobile Ads API for the first time into their app or game will receive a $100 Amazon.com Gift Card.* The Amazon Mobile Ads API is easy to integrate and delivers highly-relevant mobile optimized ads from Amazon and brand advertisers ensuring a great experience for users. Members of the Mobile Ads team will also be on hand in booth #2429 to help you throughout the event.

Amazon Fire TV Twitch Broadcast

Then on Wednesday, March 4th we will be broadcasting live from GDC with a couple of special guests from 4pm to 7pm. The event is open to the public from 4pm to 6pm and you do not need to be a GDC pass holder to attend. Simply stop by the AWS Pop-up Loft on Market Street between 4pm to 6pm PST and join us in person for the Twitch stream.


We will be showcasing several new Amazon Fire TV games as well as interviewing the game developers who created them. Not at GDC? No worries, you will be able to watch the stream live on Twitch here from 4pm to 7pm PST.

If you’re a gamedev at GDC this will be a great opportunity for you to speak directly with Amazon Appstore, AWS and Twitch experts all in one place. Hope to see you there!

-Dave (@TheDaveDev)

*Visit exhibit #2429 for more details. Send us an email at amazon-mobile-ads@amazon.com with your Amazon Developer Portal registered email ID to qualify. Existing apps already sending ad requests do not qualify. Existing developers who integrate the Amazon Mobile Ads API into another qualified app for the first time are eligible for the offer. One Amazon.com Gift Card per participant while supplies last. Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") may only be redeemed towards the purchase of eligible products on www.amazon.com GCs cannot be reloaded, resold, transferred for value, redeemed for cash or applied to any other account.  Amazon.co.uk is not responsible if a GC is lost, stolen, destroyed or used without permission.  See www.amazon.com/gc-legal for complete terms and conditions. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. Amazon may modify or cancel this offer at any time.

 

February 12, 2015

Mike Hines

As the size of mobile apps get larger, and services and tools get more complex, they add more method references to our apps. Google Play Services alone adds 29,460 methods (reference).  The result is that we are hitting the original design limitations of Android build architecture. Specifically, we hit the inability of a single Dalvik Executable file (dex file) to support more than 65K Method references. When that happens, your code will generate build errors and won’t run.

You can learn more about this issue here: https://developer.android.com/tools/building/multidex.html

And a Few Methods More

When you compile your code and are short of the 65K limit, you may reasonably believe you don’t need to worry about this problem. That is, until you submit it to an Appstore. Most appstores, (the Amazon Appstore included), add additional method references as part of the ingestion process. If your code is ”too close” to the limit when submitted, your code may fail upon submitting to an Appstore after the additional references are added. This has always been the case. However, with the release of Android 5 (Lollipop) we have started seeing a lot more of these “too close” dex file problems. To help you avoid or work around this limitation, we have some suggestions below:

What Hitting the Wall Looks Like

You’ll know when your app references more than 65,535 methods because you’ll see an error something like this:

Or

If you see these errors, you can certainly address them before submitting to an Appstore. But even if you’re close, you’ll want to try some of these practices to stay comfortably away from “too close”.

How Close Are You to 65K Method References?

To find out how close you are to 65K method references, you can utilize a tool called dex-method-counts to get the method count and what is referencing them:

https://github.com/mihaip/dex-method-counts

What is “too close”?

“Too close” will be different for each Appstore and each device OS, so there is no single correct answer. But Google sets max methods to 60K if Multidex is used, so you can be pretty sure that 60K methods is a safe number for newer Android devices. (Devices running older Android OSs may need that limit closer to ~55K methods).

Use ProGuard to Help Remove Unused Libraries

The first (and easiest) step is to remove as many unnecessary libs and methods as possible.  To help in this task, you can use ProGuard (part of the Android SDK) with -dontoptimize –dontobfuscate in the configuration which will remove unused methods from the dex file during build time. (See this helpful blog post on using ProGuard by Crashlytics)

Using More Than One dex File

If removing unused libraries doesn’t work for you, you can try using the Multi-dex approach, which splits up classes.dex into multiple dex files.

The quickest and safest approach for using multi-dex is to use the Multidex library with Gradle Plugin: https://developer.android.com/tools/building/multidex.html.

There are few caveats to this approach however; the main one is the requirement to use Gradle. You may also find that it may not remove enough methods to go below the limit without performing a few extra steps which are outlined in the “Using the Multidex Library” section below. You can use the dex-method-counts tool referenced above to check the method count of your resulting classes.dex file.

Using the Multidex Library

With Android 5.0 Lollipop release, a new support library (android-support-multidex.jar) appeared in Android SDK ver 21.1.x and Android Support library 21.0.3. You can find it in:

\android-sdk\extras\android\support\multidex\library\libs. It contains two new classes: MultiDex and MultiDexApplication and simplifies the Multidex loading process. According to Multidex documentation (http://developer.android.com/tools/building/multidex.html) it does not provide additional functionality on Android 5.0, which already has built-in support for secondary dex files. Rather, on previous versions of Android, it allows additional .dex files from the APK archive to the classloader. The library allows the archive to become part of the primary DEX file of your app and manages access to the additional DEX files.

To implement multi-dex for Pre-Android 5.0 releases follow the steps below:

Step #1

Make sure you have updated your Android build Tools to the latest version – You will need at least 21.1.x, current version as of this writing is 21.1.2

Step #2

Add the android-support-multidex.jar library into your project. You can find it in: \android-sdk\extras\android\support\multidex\library\libs

Step #3

Add multiDexEnabled true and Multidex dependency to your buildConfig in the build.gradle file. An example below:

Step #4

You can override the android.app.Application class, or declare MultiDexApplication class in AndroidManifest.xml file as shown below:

Step #5

If you have any additional libraries in your project, be sure that you disable pre-dexing on them. Unfortunately the --multi-dex option is not compatible with pre-dexed libs.

You can do this by adding the example below to your app/build.gradle file.

Step #6

You have to configure build instructions to endure that your Multidex app is optimized for the Amazon Appstore and our ingestion process. As of this writing you have three options:

Option #1 – Manually create the main-dex-list file.

In app/build.gradle file we have to add:

There are two params:

--multi-dex - enables splitting mechanism in build process

--main-dex-list - file with list of classes which have to be attached in main dex file (we will address this one in Step #5)

To ensure your Multidex app will ingest and publish properly in the Amazon Appstore you should use the --main-dex-list param to put the following in the main .dex file:

  • Custom Applications
  • Activities
  • Services
  • Receivers
  • Providers
  • Instrumentations
  • Annotations

Option #2 – Ignore the multi-dex and multi-dex-list parameters.

If you are using studio 0.9.0+ gradle 0.14.2 and use the dx.additionalParameters to manually set the max number of referenced methods in your main classes.dex file, then the main-dex-list will be auto-generated and you don’t have to set the multi-dex and multi-dex-list parameters. It will look similar to:

Option #3 - Ignore the multi-dex and multi-dex-list parameters if you are using studio 0.9.0+ gradle 0.14.2 and let the build tools automatically limit the dx.additionalParameters parameter to 60,000.

This should work for most applications, however if you have a very large number of classes in your app you may find that you will need to manually set your max number to something less than 60,000 to have your app ingest properly in the Amazon Appstore.

Additional Resources

StackOverflow has some handy info.

The source code of how Gradle automatically generates a main dex list is here.

There is also a tool that can automatically generate this main-dex-list here.

This blog post has an example of a useful proguard-rules.txt file that accommodates the AWS SDK and some other popular tools.

 

February 10, 2015

Jesse Freeman

Welcome to the final part of this five part series on making games for the Amazon Appstore. Part one, two, three and four helped you build the foundation for your game’s design and in this final post we will talk about how to actually market your game.

So you have finally finished your game and are ready to release it to the world. While there is a lot you can do after you have completed your game to help make it a success, you should always be thinking about marketing your game from the very beginning. The following section will help you with everything from naming your game to how to help it stick out in an overcrowded mobile store. While marketing a game is not an exact science, and its success has a lot to do with the quality of your game and pure luck, you can still take the necessary steps to ensure it gets the most attention possible out of the gate.

Naming Your Game

The name of your game is going to be the single most important decision you make. Companies spend huge amounts of money doing market research to come up with product names, and what you come up with for your game has lasting effects. The most basic thing you can do to help your game be more successful is to simply give it a descriptive name. Look at other games and how they came up with their names:

  • “Mario” – Named after the main character. While it doesn’t describe what you will be doing in the game, it helps establish the lead and his name defines the brand.
  • “Legend of Zelda” – The word legend implies a deep story told a long time ago, and saving Princess Zelda is the main objective of the game.
  • “Grand Theft Auto” – The name alone implies stealing cars and breaking the law. It clearly describes the main gameplay mechanic the player is going to expect to be doing.
  • “Angry Birds” – Doesn’t get any more basic than this. You play as a bunch of angry birds.

Naming a game isn’t always an easy task, but make sure your game’s name is clear, descriptive, and easy to remember. Also, make sure your game’s name makes sense for sequels and continuations if you find yourself with a hit on your hands.

Getting People to Play Your Game

This topic really goes back to the beginning section on what platform to build your game in. The key to success is really getting your game in the hands of as many players as possible. To do that, you will need to pick a platform with the most reach possible. While HTML5 has the incredible advantage of being published to the Web, you will find that it is more difficult to publish to a native store. Frameworks like GameMaker and Unity will allow you to publish to multiple platforms, but they charge extra for that service. Some features are free, and while GameMaker allows you to export an HTML5 version for the Web and Unity has a Web Player for its game, you really need to do your research and pick the right tool from the beginning.

The ideal scenario is that you are able to release your game on all of the major platforms: Web, iOS, Android, FireOS and desktop. From there, you have some granular options to decide on, like what devices to support on each mobile platform, and even what version of the OS you can support. Don’t forget Web stores, such as Chrome Market and Firefox’s new Web-based Phone OS. Also, there are online game portals that do revenue sharing based on ads around your game. While mobile is all the rage, don’t forget how many people still use Web browsers, and every modern mobile device also supports playing Web games, so you get even more bang for your buck. I am now working on having all of my games as Web-playable demos pointing to the app store versions to help broaden my audience, since being found on the Web is much easier than in an app store.

If the Web isn’t your thing, also keep in mind cross-platform desktop publishing. A lot of indies have had success with Steam Greenlight, as well as bundle deals like Humble Bundle. Both of these distribution solutions leverage desktop compiling and usually want games that support Windows, Mac, and Linux. If you intend to ever get your game on Steam, make sure you are able to offer a desktop installer.

Charging for Your Game

With all of this talk about distribution, you are probably thinking through all of your monetization options. Let’s take a look at the three most common options out there now:

  • Flat rate – Your first instinct is probably to charge a flat rate for your game, like 99 cents or more. Some games can command a very high premium on the mobile market, but gone are the days of charging $5, $10, or more, especially if you are just starting out. When it comes to pricing your game, you should do a lot of research on your game’s genre, its competition, and what it costs. If you see a lot of high quality free games similar to yours, it’s probably best to consider an alternative option.
  • Free with ads – This was popular for a long time before in-app purchases were introduced. Basically, you make the game free and use ads to help generate money. While there are clear advantages to making your game free, which allows anyone to download it, it is also incredibly hard to monetize from ads. As an example, my most successful game on Android with almost 50k downloads (roughly 1-2k players a day) only generates $1 or less each day. In order to really make money with ads, you will need at least 100k players a day or more, and show larger, more obtrusive ads that tend to slow down the game’s flow or frustrate players.
  • IAP (in-app purchases) – The final approach, which has gained considerable popularity lately, is relying on IAP (or in-app purchases). Usually, the game is free and you try to upsell so users buy more levels, items in the game, or even ways to speed up their in-game character’s development. What’s good about this approach is that your game is completely free, so you get my people playing your game, and if they like it or you have compelling IAP, they end up paying more than they normally would had your game been sold at a flat rate. This model is extremely hard to pull off successfully, and it’s a fine line between adding additional value to your game and trying to exploit the player’s compulsion loop.

The reality is that, if this is your first game, chances are high that you will not make a lot of money off of it. Having a successful game is kind of like winning the lottery. I am not telling you this to discourage you; I want first-time game developers to have a clear idea of what they are in for. Even seasoned game developers have a difficult time monetizing their games without help from marketing firms. Even getting good reviews on game sites, which is hard to do, doesn’t always translate into lots of sales. The best thing you can do is get featured on the app store itself, but once that promotion is over, unless you have a real hit on your hands, you will see a natural drop off in your game’s sales or downloads.

The last thing I want to talk about, which leads into our next topic, is that making games is a learning experience. The more games you make the better you become as a game developer and grow your chances of making a hit game. While it’s very frustrating for first-time game developers to work hard on something and not see people download it or buy it, you shouldn’t give up. One of the best things your game can be is a promotional tool for you and even your next game. Always be sure to have links to your other games inside of your game to help promote everything you are doing. You may be surprised to realize that, over time, you actually end up building up a following of people more willing to pay for your next game if they continue to play and like the ones you are releasing now.

The More Games You Make the Better

I talk to a lot of game developers each day, and they all have the same story: the more games they have in the store the better their sales are. This happens for two reasons. The first is that, when you make more than one game, they are all featured on your game’s download page under a section that highlights other games made by the same author. That means that each additional game you make basically gives you free advertising for your other games. The second thing that happens is that, when a person likes your game, they naturally want to play more games you have made. This means they will look at anything else you have created, which is the basis for building your own fan base. So each successive game you release will naturally help drive downloads and sales of your past games as well. This is another reason why you should not give up if your first game isn’t an instant success and just keep making as many games as you can!

Conclusion

The good news is that publishing to the Amazon Appstore is free and easy, especially if you are already building Android games. Simply sign up for a developer account at the developer portal to get started today. Here are some additional links to help you gets started:

- Jesse Freeman (@jessefreeman)