In a statement to the Financial Times, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer said that the Digital Markets Act in the European Union will help them reach their goal of launching an Xbox mobile games store. The DMA, which will take effect in March 2024, will require tech giants Google and Apple to allow third party app stores on their operating systems.
“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 Spencer. “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.”
In fact, Google already allows alternative app stores on Android devices, but its Play Store is still the number one destination for the majority of users. Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t allow third party app stores on iOS, but is reportedly planning to do so in order to comply with the upcoming EU requirements.
Meanwhile, Microsoft introduced its Xbox Cloud Gaming service in 2019, which arrived on Android in 2020 and on iOS a year after that, allowing mobile users to play over 100 titles like Fortnite within its Xbox Game Pass app. However, Apple requires each game available in the service to be downloaded one by one, which has made the process much more challenging, and led Microsoft to ask users to sign in through Safari instead.
Microsoft first revealed plans to build an Xbox mobile games store in its filings as part of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority’s ongoing investigation into its Activision Blizzard acquisition.
“The transaction will improve Microsoft’s ability to create a next-generation game store that operates across a range of devices, including mobile, as a result of the addition of Activision Blizzard’s content,’’ the company said in its filings in October last year. ‘’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.’’
If the $69 billion deal goes through, it could enable Microsoft to make a big entry into the mobile gaming space, since the company plans to offer popular games like Activision’s Candy Crush Saga and Call of Duty: Mobile on its mobile games store.
However, the acquisition is still being investigated in multiple countries. The CMA, which entered into the second phase of its review in September, said last month that it ‘’could result in higher prices, fewer choices, or less innovation for UK gamers’’.
Following a similar probe in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission sued Microsoft to block the acquisition in December, saying it would enable it to ‘’suppress competitors to its Xbox gaming consoles and its rapidly growing subscription content and cloud-gaming business.’’
The proposed acquisition is also undergoing an investigation by the European Commission. Earlier in January, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the deal was likely to face an antitrust warning from EU regulators.
According to another recent report from Reuters, the governing body is expected to approve the deal thanks to Microsoft’s licensing deals with competitors.