Microsoft is reportedly building an Xbox mobile gaming store in direct competition with Apple and Google.
The news, as reported by The Verge, has emerged due to filings from the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in Microsoft’s ongoing $68.7bn buyout of Activision Blizzard.
Both the popularity of Activision’s mobile games and the inclusion of King are major factors in Microsoft’s buyout as it looks to expand the Xbox brand further into mobile gaming.
“The transaction will improve Microsoft’s ability to create a next generation game store which operates across a range of devices, including mobile as a result of the addition of Activision Blizzard’s content,” said Microsoft in the company filings.
“Building on Activision Blizzard’s existing communities of gamers, Xbox will seek to scale the Xbox Store to mobile, attracting gamers to a new Xbox Mobile Platform.”
It even specifically mentions Google and Apple as the biggest competition.
“Shifting consumers away from the Google Play Store and App Store on mobile devices will, however, require a major shift in consumer behaviour,” it reads. “Microsoft hopes that by offering well-known and popular content, gamers will be more inclined to try something new.”
The opportunity to drive revenue is clearly a significant part of the buyout, as is the mobile gaming expertise at Activision Blizzard.
“The transaction gives Microsoft a meaningful presence in mobile gaming. Mobile gaming revenues from the King division and titles such as Call of Duty: Mobile, as well as ancillary revenue, represented more than half of Activision Blizzard’s … revenues in the first half of 2022. Mobile customers account for around three-quarters of its MAU,” read the filings.
“Microsoft currently has no meaningful presence in mobile gaming and the Transaction will bring much needed expertise in mobile game development, marketing and advertising. Activision Blizzard will be able to contribute its learnings from developing and publishing mobile games to Xbox gaming studios.”
So far in discussions, the CMA has focused on console gaming and the Call of Duty franchise.
Microsoft has been forced to repeatedly downplay the importance of Call of Duty in light of Sony’s comments. But this latest news of an Xbox Mobile Platform does suggest that Microsoft’s ambitions are far larger than just competition between consoles.
Considering Apple’s policies blocking third-party app stores on iOS – just look at Epic – it would be an uphill battle for Microsoft on mobile.
But as The Verge reports, Microsoft is looking to allow developers to freely run their own app stores on its Xbox mobile platform and offer its own payment systems to process in-app purchases. This could be enough to lure in developers.
The expansion of mobile gaming is also in-line with Microsoft’s push of cloud gaming, as well as its promise to make Xbox gaming available as widely as possible.