Microsoft’s head of gaming has suggested the company’s planned mobile games store may be ready by next year.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Phil Spencer reiterated plans to launch an Xbox-branded app store on iOS and Android devices, and explained that Microsoft is already preparing for the date at which this could be legally possible.
In the interview, Spencer cited the Digital Markets Act, a new piece of legislation that will force Apple and Google to allow its users to access their apps from more than just the App Store and Google Play Store.
“The Digital Markets Act that’s coming – those are the kinds of things that we are planning for,” Spencer explained, adding: “I think it’s a huge opportunity.”
The Digital Markets Act was signed into law by the European Parliament in September 2022, and becomes applicable on May 2, 2023.
The law will identify digital ‘gatekeepers’ who are accused of using their power to prevent alternative companies from taking part in digital sales.
Once the gatekeepers are identified, they will have to start complying with the act by March 6, 2024. In Apple and Google’s case, this will include allowing other app stores to be installed on iOS and Android devices.
Theoretically, then – assuming the legislation isn’t appealed, delaying the deadline – March 6, 2024 is the date from which Microsoft could add an Xbox Games Store to mobile devices.
“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,” Spencer explained to 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.”
Microsoft has already stated that one of the main reasons for its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is the company’s existing mobile presence, ranging from Call of Duty Mobile to the games released by its subsidiary King (including the Candy Crush titles).
In a regulatory finding posted in October, Microsoft stated that the acquisition would “improve [its] 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”.
It added: “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.
“Shifting consumers away from the Google Play Store and App Store on mobile devices will, however, require a major shift in consumer behaviour. Microsoft hopes that by offering well-known and popular content, gamers will be more inclined to try something new.”
Spencer also claimed last year that Xbox will struggle to continue as a global business if the company doesn’t establish a foothold in mobile.