Microsoft Plans To Launch An App Store Of Its Own To Rival Apple And Google
Microsoft is planning to launch a new app store for games, for iPhone and Android smartphones as soon as next year if its $75 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is cleared by regulators, according to the head of its Xbox business.
Some new rules requiring Apple and Google to open their mobile platforms to app stores owned and operated by other companies are expected to come into force from March 2024 under the EU’s Digital Markets Act.
The company is now waiting for mobile ecosystems to become more open so that it could challenge the biggest platform holders like Apple and Google.
“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,” said the Chief executive of Microsoft gaming, Phil Spencer, also, in an interview ahead of this week’s annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
“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.”
This goes to show that Microsoft had been planning to aim at mobile markets for a long time now, and Microsoft has serious plans according to Phil Spencer, and the company wants to open its apps store next year.
A full-fledged and long-awaited Xbox Mobile Store might become possible due to upcoming changes in the EU legislation. Last December it was reported that Apple will have to obey and comply with this so-called digital Markets Act (DMA) which has been aimed at preventing mobile gatekeepers from abusing their dominance in the market. It should now allow European users to install third-party apps and stores even on closed ecosystems like iOS.
The DMA is expected to be enforced sometime in March 2024.
Spencer further told the Financial Times that Microsoft sees it as a huge opportunity and Activision blizzard mobile titles such as Candy Crush Saga, Diablo Immortal, and COD: mobile should help the company attract new users to its Appstore.
Microsoft first unveiled this plan last October, in a response to the UK’s competition and Market’s Authority (CMA), the company said the $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard should improve its “ability to create a next-generation game store which operates across a range of devices, including mobile.”
And according to Microsoft, the merger will boost the competition in the mobile market which is currently being dominated by iPhone and Google. Activision Blizzard should also give it “much-needed expertise in mobile game development, marketing, and advertising.”
This being said, the $68.7 billion deal has not yet been cleared by regulators and the US Federal Trade Commission is collecting documents ahead of an antitrust trial scheduled for August 2. The CMA has until April 26 to make its final decision on the merger, and the European Commission will rule on the deal on May 22.
This means that Microsoft is fighting regulators in the US, Europe, and the UK which have all raised their respective concerns about the potential impact on the competition from the owner of the Xbox Console buying the developer of Call Of Duty, which is one of the world’s most popular games franchises.
Sony has been an opponent of the team, however, Spencer argued that the deal could boost competition in what he called the “largest platform people play on” which are their Smartphones. This is exactly where Apple and Google operate, which has been called a “duopoly” by some antitrust authorities.
“The Digital Markets Act that’s coming — those are the kinds of things that we are planning for,” Spencer said. “I think it’s a huge opportunity.”
It was hard to predict exactly when Microsoft would be able to launch its own store, Spencer said it would be pretty “trivial” for the company to adapt its Xbox and Game Pass apps to sell games and subscriptions on mobile devices. Microsoft is currently lacking mobile games which is an “Obvious hole in our capability” and they required Activision to fill this need, he added.
Moreover, in Brussels, Microsoft had made “binding commitments” to the European Commission to make Activision Blizzard content available to rival cloud gaming providers, it was done as part of a deal to appease the competition with EU regulators, in addition to this, people with direct knowledge of the discussions exclaimed these points.