Microsoft Plans Xbox Mobile Gaming Store Launch
Tech giant anticipates regulatory changes, aims to challenge Apple and Google's app store dominance
Microsoft plans to launch its Xbox mobile gaming store as early as next year, anticipating that tech giants like Apple and Google will be compelled to open up their mobile app stores. Last year, Microsoft disclosed its intention to create an Xbox mobile store, and now Xbox Chief Phil Spencer has confirmed that the company is actively developing the store.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer stated, “We want to be in a position to offer Xbox and content from both us and our third-party partners across any screen where somebody would want to play.” He added that while Microsoft cannot currently do so on mobile devices, they are working towards a future where these devices are more accessible.
Microsoft first hinted at a “next-generation store” shortly after announcing its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The Xbox mobile store is designed to compete with Apple and Google’s mobile gaming stores and will feature content from Activision Blizzard, such as Call of Duty: Mobile and Candy Crush Saga.
For Microsoft’s Xbox mobile store to succeed on Android and iOS devices, regulators will need to take action against Apple and Google. Apple currently does not allow alternative stores or rival payment methods on its iPhone and iPad devices in most countries. Companies like Microsoft and Spotify hope that the EU’s Digital Markets Act will prompt Apple and Google to change how they distribute apps on mobile devices and open their platforms and stores to competition.
Spencer expressed optimism about the upcoming Digital Markets Act, stating, “I think it’s a huge opportunity.” Microsoft has a small presence in mobile gaming, and in a filing with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year, the company acknowledged its lack of meaningful presence in the sector and the need for expertise in mobile game development, marketing, and advertising.
Microsoft is also developing a broader Xbox mobile platform, having quickly supported Xbox Cloud Gaming on Valve’s Steam Deck and partnered with Logitech and Razer for cloud gaming-focused handheld devices. The forthcoming Xbox mobile store would enable developers to run their own app stores within Microsoft’s Xbox mobile platform.
However, all these plans hinge on regulatory approval of Microsoft’s proposed Activision Blizzard acquisition. Microsoft is currently facing scrutiny from the European Commission, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the CMA. While the EU is likely to approve the deal, the FTC sued to block it last year, and the case is still ongoing. FTC lawyers have recently requested documents on Microsoft’s “next-generation gaming ecosystem,” which could be related to the company’s plans for the Xbox mobile gaming store.
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