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Disable notifications for AlphaJax and other games on Windows Phone 8

Push notifications (also called toast notifications) are those pop-up messages you get from certain apps – the ones that say you’ve got a game invite, a weather alert, a new tweet, etc. Even if you don’t have an app that supports them, you’ve probably seen them appear whenever you get a text message or voice mail.

Windows Phone 7 always had issues with push notifications though. Not the hardwired SMS alerts and such, but pushes from games and apps. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they didn’t, and everyone’s experience seemed to differ.

When Windows Phone 8 rolled around, we hoped that would change. Unfortunately, at first glance it did not (for games, at least). While the pushes from recent Xbox WP release AlphaJax have driven some WP7 users crazy, some Lumia 920 owners like me simply haven’t seen those notifications (and yet others have). Thankfully, pushes aren’t completely broken on WP8. They’re just bugged, and there is a way around it.

How to force push notifications for games to work properly on Windows Phone 8

Push notifications tutorial
Steps 1-3

  • Head to the main Settings menu on your device.
  • Swipe right to Applications.
  • Select Games.
  • Turn off the second option, ‘Sync game requests.’ Turn it back on.
  • Toggle the third option, ‘Show game notifications.’ Then turn it back on.

Push notifications tutorial 2
Steps 4-5

That’s it! Push notifications from games will now work. They should work by default, but don’t. Let’s hope Microsoft corrects that in a future update… And gives us separate volume controls for the ringer and apps, for crying out loud!

Quieting those toasts

Of course, AlphaJax players who properly enable push notifications will be opening up the flood gates for alerts from the game. You’ll get pushed whenever an opponent makes a move or a new invite comes in. If those notifications prove too frequent for your delicate sensibilities, you can quiet them by returning to your phone’s general Games setting screen as described earlier. Then just leave ‘Show game notifications’ turned off.

Faster, stronger, better

While we're on the subject of AlphaJax, some players may have noticed the game was running very slowly earlier this week. The lengthy startup time was bad enough, but it took forever to lead up a game or send moves as well. As a primarily online multiplayer game (that is supported by ads), the game can only work as fast as its Xbox Live servers allow.

Thankfully, Microsoft quickly realized that more people were playing AlphaJax than its servers could handle. These slowdowns especially occurred during the early morning hours, when loads of US players hopped online at once. As such, the servers have now been upgraded to allow more people to play simultaneously without impacting game performance.

AlphaJax is a free Xbox Windows Phone game that runs on both WP7 and WP8 devices.  Don't have it yet? Check out our full and thoroughly awesome (or is that awesomely thorough?) review and then download the game here from the Windows Phone Store.

The push notification solution comes from dedicated reader Mark Tepper, who has quite an impressive legitimate AlphaJax rating at press time. Thanks Mark!

QR: AlphaJax

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Reader comments

Disable notifications for AlphaJax and other games on Windows Phone 8

19 Comments

Matchmaking is horribly messed up in this game. You should request one game against a random player, be matched up with another player who also requested the same. That's it. Getting a flood of invites from strangers is not the polished matchmaking we've come to expect from the Xbox LIVE brand.

So i downloaded again and gave another try, the slow speeds are gone which is great, but the amount of invites is just appauling.  If i want a random, i want ONE random not 20..  I had to clean up my notifications and also reject a ton of invites.  I wonder if all these invites will result in a battery drain too.  Uggh..
 
The issue now is if i choose one game to play, the other person might treat my game as one of flood of games he got invited too, but didnt want and then enver play. 
 
what a mess. 

I think all game notifications for every game should go through the "Games" hub. One unified gaming area is something other platforms dont have. But it needs to be managed better. Getting random invites is little annoying...but its not the end of the world. I probably get 2 a week.

Now that there many players the requests are not so frequent. In fact on the last 5 days I only got 2 invites. So stop all this nonsense about getting invites all the time. That was happening the first 2-3 days. And unlike other games alphajax's push notifications on my phone have been excellent so far.

It's still a bad system. It should be optional if you want to receive random invites--flip a switch "no".

Maybe I just want to play against my Xbox friends? Forcing me to triage invites when not wanted is not ideal. It's a legitimate complaint.

Opt in, or opt out. Not "no choice".

Microsoft really should allow keeping invites locked down to friends only. But I understand why it must be open to everyone. Most of us don't have enough Xbox friends who also have a Windows Phone and who also play AlphaJax.

I'm really more tired of having notifications on my game, and games hub. I think it should go through one or the other, not both.

You can disable the game notifications in the Alphajax in-game settings. So you don't get double notifications.

"Push notifications (also called toast notifications)" huh? you lost me on that first line. push notifications are used to update live tiles, send raw data to running apps, start VOIP calls on WP8 and show toasts. toasts are just one type of push notifications. 

The achievement for playing with a Xbox friend is broke. I have played numerous games against my one friend and neither of us have the achievement yet. Needs to be fixed. A notification center would be perfect to know who sent you a move if you don't see the toast happen.

Just a note that there is an update coming in the new year so that you can control random and skill match invites, so you can disable/enable them at any time. If you turn this setting off you will no longer receive new game invites via these methods. 
Also, please note random and skill match new game invite notifications are sent up to a maximum of  7 days of inactivity of the user. 
Please note that we will never at this point be able to detect when a user has actually deleted the app, so if you don't want any notifications after you delete the app (Why!?), you should turn all invites off and resign or complete all games before deleting the game from your phone. The update will obviously make it easier in this regard to stop game invites happening for 1 week after you delete the game. 
This issue was really only apparent in the first few days of availability as the user base ramped up. We're seeing quite high replay for random and skill match invites now. 

Nice to hear updates are coming. Things i would like to see getting implemented is settings for the screen to stay always on, able to play even when data/wifi are not available, better notification when someone sends me a message on the chat, able to view previous moves and an online dictionary.