Xbox API for Windows 10 games will still require certification

During Build, Operating Systems exec Terry Myerson demonstrated how an iOS game could be easily ported to Windows 10.

During the demonstration, Myerson obtained an Xbox Live achievement, "How do you like them Apples?", showing off the integration of Xbox APIs in Windows store apps.

We already have Xbox achievements on some Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 games which count towards your Xbox gamerscore, a pool of all the points you've accrued playing Xbox branded games. Seeing an achievement pop-up on a very basic math game made some concerned that the Xbox API could become open for any developer to use, regardless of the quality or uniqueness of their game. There's a lot of bad Flappy Bird clones in the store after all.

50 gamerscore for basic arithmetic? Really? Fear not! Microsoft have issued a statement:

...As we announced at GDC, we're delivering an Xbox Live SDK for Windows that enables developers of all sizes to build cross device experiences powered by Xbox Live. The demo showed at //build was for illustrative purposes to show that developers can use code built for Android or iOS apps and easily migrate them to Windows 10. Any use of Xbox Live services, such as awarding Gamerscore, will be in line with current policies, and awarding Gamerscore and earning Achievements requires a certification process for developers...

As expected, it turns out that Terry Myerson's demonstration was just a basic example. For a developer to contribute to the gamerscore pool, they must meet certain standards which will be in-line with what we already have.

...We are committed to bringing the same high quality achievements experience to Windows 10 in a way that does not trivialize or disrupt the gamerscore economy. We'll have more to share on this implementation at a later time...

As an Xbox fan, I've always seen the Xbox APIs as a really strong Windows Phone unique selling point. When I tell Xbox fans that some of their favourite mobile games carry Xbox achievements on Windows Phone, it's always a good hook. Gameloft and other major mobile game developers have reined in their support of the platform for reasons unknown, whilst Game Troopers have risen up to fill some of the Xbox for Windows publishing gap.

As Windows 10 furthers a developer's ability to port their games to and between Windows devices, we can only hope that Xbox for Windows gets the love it deserves (without providing achievements for every single match-three game that floods the store...)

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • I still don't like the idea that Android and IOS apps can still have its UI!
  • When they're ported they'll be Windows Store apps, not Android / iOS apps. You realise even now when devs port apps and games to Windows Phone they're re-using some code, right?
  • Exactly. And if it means bringing new apps to the platform with minimal need to recode or change things, I'm all for it!! The dev can also code in Windows Phone-specific things like Microsoft APIs for Outlook, Skype, etc., and even transparent tile support. Seriously....I'd say this guy's comment is rather irrelevant when you look at all the benefits that Windows10 will bring.
  • With games it doesn't matter anyway. Monument Valley looks the same on Android, iOS and Windows Phone. For example.
  • Shareit is also an iOS app... The way for file receiving tells it . And its UI is like WP UI itself.. But Windows Central is not interested to see my news tip about it
  • But will it be easier for developers to use Xbox integration? After all many have chosen to ignore it because of the mess it was / is.
  • It will be easier, especially since they're bringing ID@Xbox to Windows 10. They're trying to strike a balance between the prohibitively strict status quo and the way too lenient nightmare of a 1000GS fart app. That said, as they worked to iron this stuff out, they should've really worked with Ustwo, Sirvo, and Mojang to make sure that Monument Valley, Threes, and Minecraft launched on Windows Phone as Xbox games. Those were three huge missed opportunities for Windows Phone. They're all established hits, clearly of high quality, and Microsoft could've compensated for the delayed releases of those games on WP (in comparison to iOS/Android) by having the definitive versions on WP as Xbox games.
  • I agree to the quality control...but at least they can relax the requirements a bit and make it easier for devs to integrate the APIs...but I don't know what the scenario is right now
  • I worked with Xbox certification. These are only quality requirements which IMO, all games should respect.
  • Can you provide any insight into why games developers might not bother to go through certification?
  • As far as I know it is prohibitively expensive for smaller studios and it costs more time, and hence more money, for them to go through the process (make all the changes and satisfy all the requirements). I'd be keen to hear more about this though.
  • You have your own Xbox game? May I ask the name of it?
  • What are the costs involved? The last I heard you needed a publisher (I think MS can provide that role now) and costs were between $30,000-50,000. I know major updates used to require re-certification which was another $30-50k which is why they finally dropped that cost.
  • " Gameloft and other major mobile game developers have reined in their support of the platform for reasons unknown" Jez, please read that 5 series article on Xbox on windows phone by Paul Acevedo for reasons leading to drought of xbox games on windows phone, of all people you should be the first one to read those articles as you are a gaming writer here. Here is the link for all articles on save xbox on windows phone, you will be enlightened after reading this:
  • Haha yes.
  • I have read them. :)
  • IMHO, this sucks.  Who cares if any game wants to have xbox acheivements?  It seems to be working okay for google play and gamecenter acheivements.  The only thing fun about acheivements is comparing them with friends on a per game basis.  The 'overall gamerscore' is a stupid concept  that nobody should care about and the only thing holding them back from just letting anyone use the achievement system like they can on iOS or Android.
  • telling people what they should or shouldn't care about is a very bad idea.
  • ha, yeah that's true - i did say it was just my opinion though :)
  • Achievements and the "overall gamerscore" are one of the most brilliant things Microsoft ever did to video games. There is a reason so many companies followed suit.
  • Hmm... seems like maybe people are taking what I said to mean that I have something against achievments - quite the contrary, I think they are great.  I just don't like the idea that the sanctity of the 'overall gamerscore' is something to be used to prevent devs from adding achievements to thier games.
  • The "sanctity of the 'overall gamerscore'" is crucial because people have invested thousands of hours into playing this meta game and no one likes inflation because it devalues the game. Downloading a fart app that gives you 1000GS just for tapping on the screen once would destroy the massively successful program Microsoft spent the past decade building up with tens of millions of players. If they ruin it by lowering their certification standards too much, the entire system will collapse.
  • There are hundreds of thousands of people that use sites like TrueAchievements also...setting up games to earn hard to earn achievements.  THAT is why they are trying to not break it, because they have something that MEANS something to a lot of people...Achievements are core to their brand. Sure, there are others like you that don't care about them.  There are also people that do not care about games at ALL.  Does that mean MS should kill making video games? :)
  • But I DO care about achievements.  Just on a per game basis, overall gamerscore does nothing for me.  Also, if they allowed all devs to use them I don't see what that matters - it's not like there is anything to keep someone from downloading those apps and earning the achievements.  It just seems to me that it is a silly reason to not allow any dev to add achievements. 
  • :) - I'm by no means a google or apple fan, 100% a microsoft fan.  I just don't get the appeal of the overall gamerscore, partucularly when it prevents WP/W10 game devs from being able to add achievements to their games.  There are a ton of people who won't buy a game that doesnt have achievements, me included in most cases (though i will make an exception if the upcoming tomb raider endless runner doesnt have them - because it is tomb raider).  I was just using google/apple as a comparison because any game dev has access to their achievement APIs and I'd like to see the same happen with xbox. I know some people frown on this idea because it would mean a lot more easy games that could be used to bolster their overall gamerscore and potential broken acheivements, but it's not like the easy GS games don't already exist (avatar for example, 1000 gamerscore in like 3 minutes right at the beginning of the game) - and there are too games with broken acheivements (on WP alone) to even list.  I'm just failing to see the importance of keeping the achievement API so exclusive if they are trying so hard to court developers.
  • Anyone who plays games should "get the appeal of the overall gamerscore". It's a meta-game. It turns gaming into a game--into a cumulative social competition. It was the smartest thing Microsoft ever did to Xbox.
  • Meta games in every aspect of gaming is still sub par to actual gaming. A good game with 50 hours of story trumps all high achievement games with little value.
  • No, the meta game is more fun. A 50-hour story is tediously overlong and unbearably self-indulgent, with the end result being of little value compared to the meta game that is Gamerscore, which results in actual social exchanges and competitions with real human beings.
  • All this talk about what PC Windows 10 will do with Xbox, not enough (or any) talk about what Xbox will do with Windows 10. Is xbox going to adopt the Win 10 model? Or am i still going to be confined to 40 apps on my xbox which is no more than PS4's amount.  
  • i didnt know there was a limit, thats interesting.
  • There isn't a "limit" as in "only X amount", it is just limited by companies having to develope an app for the large screen and pass certification.  All, or at least most, Xbox One apps unlock Achievements so they are passing through certification.  It is completely my understanding that Xbox One will run a version of Windows with a different wrapper on it.  It would allow it to run all Universal apps that have been scalled for the "big screen".  I could see them keeping a level of certification so you don't have 500,000 apps available, but I'm not dead set on that.
  • Before worrying about cheap gamerscore, I would want MS to fix the store. The search and "similar apps" are a mess. Looking for Twitter? No problem, here it is but also apps for customizing your tiles, a games logo quiz and something I can't even read because it's in some freaking Asian language! (not meant offensive, honestly can't say if it's Chinese, Korean, etc.) Fix the search and tags, and please kick out the trash apps. Yes, it's a good thing that so many people can make their own apps but some of them are just crap. I'm not saying that a walled garden like the Apple AppStore is save from those apps, but I cringe everyime I remember the times of Android v1.5....this is where I see the Market heading (because, yeah uhm, we just need more apps, so we take everything we can).
  • People always complain.
  • Is that a complaint? :)
  • Thank goodness! Cert is very much needed
  • Good now lets see Xbox games playing on all devices at the same time in a video or something to give us hope that it can work
  • Obviously.
  • To you, maybe. I find 50-hour games to be tediously long and overly self-indulgent.
  • Game Score is more important than achivement... it will be more chalenging if you see your friends score!
  • Isn't certification the reason we have so few Xbox enabled games on WP in the first place?