Last year, Microsoft discussed its plans to create an Xbox Game Store that would compete with Google Play and the Apple App Store. However, since that initial October 2022 reveal, the company has been quiet about its plans. Well, Microsoft gaming chief Phil Spencer says the project is still alive and Microsoft is eyeing a likely 2024 launch.
There are a couple of things the company seems to be waiting for. Specifically, Microsoft wants its $69bn acquisition of Activision Blizzard to finalize and also wants to wait until Google and Apple are forced to make their app stores more open.
“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,” says Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer in an interview with the Financial Times. “Today, we can't do that on mobile devices but we want to build towards a world that we think will be coming where those devices are opened up.”
The Xbox Game Store for mobile devices will likely only work if the current duopoly Apple and Google have on their respective app stores. Regulators are currently looking into the practices of both companies. Apple doesn't currently allow other stores on its platform, but regulators may seek to force the company to be more open.
“The Digital Markets Act that's coming — those are the kinds of things that we are planning for,” adds Spencer. “I think it's a huge opportunity.” Microsoft has a small presence in mobile gaming right now, and the Xbox maker admitted that in a filing with the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year: “Microsoft currently has no meaningful presence in mobile gaming and the [Activision Blizzard] transaction will bring much needed expertise in mobile game development, marketing and advertising.”
Microsoft's acquisition of Activision is hitting stumbling blocks with regulators. The deal is being investigated in the EU and UK, while the FTC in the United States sued Microsoft in an attempt ot block the deal.