Gaming and Gearing Up for the Big Holiday Season

The holiday gift-giving season is here, and our partners in the Windows gaming community are anticipating a great holiday season. Sales activity this time of year in the Windows Store is a great indicator for impact of innovation, as well as for developer momentum on the Windows platform – and the numbers paint a positive picture. Last year during the holiday period – starting in late November with the U.S Thanksgiving holiday into January – the Store saw 2.4 times more revenue than the monthly average for the rest of the year.

This year, we are expecting similar outcomes, boosted by ~$100 million worth of Windows Store gift cards.  Couple this with 55x more local store merchandising slots, which make it easier for customers to find apps, it will be easy to both find and buy the apps consumers want. The effort put into things like gift cards and Store merchandising is aimed at further stimulating momentum.

But there’s more to the uptick in sales than seasonal marketing and spending.  Momentum is a reflection of the strategic investments we’ve made to make life easier for developer. 

Innovations from Microsoft are helping. For example, there’s the recently announced Mobile Operating billing for the Windows Store.  On the technical side, developers can create games that span Windows devices thanks to the universal Windows apps model for Windows and Phone 8.1. Developers can reach Windows devices with just a common code base instead of two or three for tablets, PCs, and phones. It improves developer economics by reducing the amount of new code and resources needed to build games that will work across multiple devices.

There’s also great support from middleware partners such as Unity, which makes it easier for developers to port existing games from other platforms to Windows. We’ve seen a 10-fold increase in Unity-based titles in the past year.

These contributed to the download of more than 8 billion app in The Windows Store. In the past year, the Windows app ecosystem has more than doubled in sales growth and experienced an 88% increase in developer participation. By the end of calendar 2014, the Store will have more than 560,000 apps—a number that continues to surge forward with about 500 new apps added daily.

Speaking of gaming and momentum – Gaming is the No. 1 revenue generator in the Store. If you head over to the Microsoft News Center, you can read about a couple of companies that we’ve profiled, including Game Insight and JoyBits who have both seen significant success in the Store, with millions of installs. That includes one game—JoyBits’ Doodle God: Planet—that got 1 million installs in just one month.

Gaming companies—and their customers—are also benefitting from DirectX, which is driving a lot of developer excitement. Performance and power management benefits from DirectX will be much more flexible when DirectX 12 arrives with Windows 10.  If performance is your thing, FPS performance can see as much as a 50 percent increase in some scenarios.  But if power savings are important, a developer can instead dial back CPU power consumption to as little as 50 percent in comparison to DirectX 11. Read more about performance and power benefits of DirectX 12 here.

As the season unfolds, we’ll have more news to share about how holiday season momentum has impacted our gaming partners. Until then, stay tuned!