Attack on Apple and Google: Microsoft plans app store for mobile games

With the billion-dollar takeover of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft not only wants to strengthen its position in the gaming sector, but also launch an attack on Apple and Google. According to the head of the group’s Xbox division, Microsoft is preparing to launch a new app store for games on iPhones and Android smartphones as early as next year, when Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard by approved by the regulatory authorities. The Financial Times reported on Monday.

“We want to be able to bring the Xbox and our and our third-party content to whatever screen someone wants to play on,” said Microsoft Gaming Chief Executive Phil Spencer in an interview ahead of the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this week. “Today we can’t do that on mobile devices, but we want to work towards a world that we believe will come when those devices open up.”

Spencer is alluding to new EU rules that oblige Apple and Google to open their mobile platforms in the EU to external app stores. The new regulations are expected to come into force from March 2024 as part of the EU Digital Markets Act, which Spencer described as “a great opportunity”. Microsoft then stated that it wants to be able to offer its game content in a kind of Xbox Mobile Store “on all screens”, i.e. also and above all smartphones.

First, however, the antitrust dispute between Microsoft and Sony must be decided. Microsoft is currently wrestling with regulators in the US, Europe and the UK, all of which have raised concerns about the potential competitive impact of Microsoft’s acquisition of Call of Duty maker Activision Blizzard. PlayStation maker Sony, by far the most vocal opponent of the takeover, wants to avoid the deal at all costs.

Most recently, it was said that the EU apparently wanted to agree to the takeover by Microsoft. A decision is expected to be announced at the end of April. In order to appease the competition authorities, Microsoft had promised its competitors access to games.

From the point of view of the competition authorities, the now announced plans by Microsoft of its own app store for mobile games could be a further argument for the approval of the Activision Blizzard takeover, since this would compete with the app store duopoly of Apple and Google.

While it’s difficult to predict exactly when Microsoft will be able to launch its own store, Spencer said the adjustments it needs to make to its Xbox and Game Pass apps to sell games and subscriptions on mobile devices are “pretty trivial”. Activision Blizzard would fix Microsoft’s current lack of mobile games. Popular games like Call of Duty Mobile, Diablo Immortal and Candy Crush Saga, as well as other titles in development, would be “vital” in attracting gamers away from the Apple and Google marketplaces to an Xbox Mobile Store, according to Spencer.


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