The Microsoft Flight Simulator team has announced upcoming changes to its Marketplace intake process. The company has been listening closely to feedback from both players and developers, who recently voiced their concerns about the increasingly-long deployment process of news add-ons in the in-sim store, and has now prepared an outline detailing new policies and improvements that will empower and enable developers to get their products released to the Marketplace faster.
The changes will take effect on March 24th, 2023, and the goal is to empower the MSFS Marketplace Partners and get their content released more quickly. To achieve this, Microsoft is making a change to its Marketplace content testing process. Developers will own testing and sign off on the functionality of all content they submit for release, while Microsoft will continue to own testing for compliance with Marketplace policies.
The aim of distributing functional testing to content creators is to remove the current bottleneck with Microsoft doing all testing. Microsoft hopes that allowing developers to make the call when functionality of their product meets the bar for release will reduce communication round trips among Microsoft Test, Content Managers and developers in reporting issues and confirming whether there are release blockers or not.
To facilitate this change, Microsoft has set up separate segments in its Live environment for each developer to test their content prior to release. Every developer has their own dedicated segment and can only access the content associated with their seller ID/partner account, both released and unreleased. Furthermore, developers will be asked to specify gamertags of internal team members who need to be granted access to their testing segment.
The new policies being implemented alongside this process include several requirements for creators. Firstly, it is not an option to keep functional testing with Microsoft. Developers are required to take ownership of their content’s functional testing. They are also required to use Xbox Series X/S hardware or Xbox Cloud Gaming to test their own Xbox content.
Content will be handed off to partners for functional testing by Monday of each week, and in order for content to be included in a given week’s Thursday release, partners must provide functional signoff by Wednesday at 9 AM PT in the same week. Microsoft’s compliance signoff must also be completed for the release to proceed.
Developers are expected to complete all test cases for every platform on which they intend to release their content, and verify that results are sufficient for release prior to providing functional sign off. Microsoft will monitor for major issues found with content after release, including those that require emergency updates and/or delisting the products in question. Any developer who has such issues surface on a recurring basis will be subject to a cooling-off period.
Microsoft reiterates that they seek to provide a global product and, as such, will continue to localize Marketplace and Hangar descriptions. However, to remove the delay this process adds to the release timeline for each new product, the company is no longer gating initial product release on localization being complete.
You can read here the full details about these changes and the new policies.
What do you think about these changes? Will they fix the slow deployment of new add-ons in the Marketplace? What new potential problems might this introduce? And what about the quality control of the add-on? Share your thoughts in the comments below!