Store Requirements and their Impact on Apps
By Alexandru Condrea, Compliance Specialist, Flaregames
When launching an application, a boost every developer aims for is the Store provided featuring. This helps customers find the application with ease for the duration of the feature slot and helps increase its chances of success.
While everyone grits their teeth at a prominent Games tab slot when pitching for a feature, there are a number of factors which contribute to whether or not it will be granted like: a good relationship with the platform, the IP, game production quality, entertainment value and even the narrative behind it. However, a consistent factor in this is using the platform\OS provided features and ensuring new device compatibility.
Both Apple and Google will always try to promote their representative attributes or newer devices, and a good method of doing that is encouraging developers to make use of them in their products. Not only that, they have to be up to par with Apple\Google standards.
How does Compliance Fit in all this?
TL:DR: In short, the main role Compliance plays is to make sure guidelines\requirements imposed by Apple or Google are met.
This ensures applications pass submission review without concerns being raised and Features are granted without last minute fixes being needed.
While Google may not have a standardized review process for regular updates as Apple does, they are more rigorous when it comes to reviews in context of a Feature. Be it from the Resolution Center rejected status or that Google Play review issue report, finding out you have to make several potentially difficult fixes in one or two days is never fun.
I know…as you’re working on getting your final build ready, you don’t really want to think about an icon not being just right or X permission in the app manifest. While your priorities may be different in that situation, tackling applicable Store requirements ahead of time is very important.
What You Should Care About
Below you can find the most common issues we’ve encountered at flaregames. They do not represent an exhaustive list of all requirements.
The Google issues were all reported during feature reviews. The Apple issues were encountered during regular reviews.
Google — Issues We’ve Come Across
1. Google Play Game Services — 40% of App Rejections
An integral aspect of the user experience on Android are Google Play Game Services. Adding the authentication flow correctly should come first.
Sign-in flow is triggered after the user manually signs out via the Achievements Settings screen.
The expectation is that an app signs-in a user automatically at launch. However, if the user has previously signed out, the app should not invoke the sign-in flow automatically. In the example above, the sign-in flow was triggered after signing out from the Achievements UI. The recommendation here is to make sure authentication works correctly in all scenarios, even edge cases.
2. Metadata — 15% of App Rejections
An increase we have noticed over the past year are localization issues. Although the most we’ve seen internally are around the Store listing, the client should not be overlooked.
The images under “screenshots” in your Google Play listing does not provide any localized versions.
Consider localising for key languages. Recommended examples: French, German, Italian Spanish, Russian, Chinese (trad.) & (simpl.), Korean, Japanese. This applies of course to both the client and the Store listing. Pay particular attention to the in-app shop and the currency symbols, if you offer micro-transactions. Games that have cinematics and\or voice-overs present particular challenges, as localization should be cover those as well. The same goes for the Store promo video.
3. Permissions — 15% of App Rejections
A common issue that can easily be overlooked, is verifying that the App Manifest does not contain any dangerous permissions that are not necessary. The ones that are must be requested within an appropriate time. This permission model has been introduced with Android 6 (Marshmallow) and has become increasingly important.
Sensitive permissions found in the app’s manifest don’t seem necessary to support user-facing features
Scrub any dangerous permissions which are not necessary from the App Manifest. If your app does require dangerous permissions, make sure the ones not critical to the app core functionality are requested when required by the app to use a specific feature. Those should not be requested during app launch. Pay particular attention to permissions added by any third party SDK integrated in the app.
4. Back Button — 10% of App Rejections
To maintain consistent user experience, the device Back button has certain guidelines in place.
Issue Example: When the Back Button is accessed second time, instead of un-pausing the gameplay, it aborts the battle. In this case, the Back button should pause\un-pause gameplay, as a pause menu was available.
In general, you should make sure your application responds to device Back button input in the following ways:
• Have the same functionality as any on-screen back or close button
• Pause and unpause gameplay.
• Dismiss all dialog windows
• Navigate to the previous location in the menu stack (if applicable)
• Exit the app when pressed at the main menu or home screen
5. App\User State — 10% of App Rejections
The app should return to a paused state after being minimised.
After minimising the game, either via Home, Recent Apps, and/or locking the device, gameplay is not paused upon returning to the game.
On screens where a Pause button is selectable, the player must return to the game in the Pause menu when navigating back to the game. The app should preserve user or app state when leaving the foreground and prevent accidental data loss due to state changes.
Core App Quality checklist
6. Bonus Google Issue
As Google is getting ready roll out Google Play Store and Android apps for the Chromebook, they are proactively ensuring compatibility as part of their feature review. At the moment, Android apps are available on select Chromebook devices with plans to expand to most available ones in the future, at which point it will likely become mandatory to ensure compatibility.
Google prefers featuring content by main Store category\subcategory with a few additional custom ones (popularity, rating, ongoing contests or pre-registration). Regardless of which one of these you’re shooting for, tackling the best practices above will set you on the right track.