Microsoft Launching an Xbox Mobile Gaming Store

xbox mobile app sarah bond

Ever since acquiring Activision Blizzard King for a massive $69 billion, people have been wondering how Microsoft planned to leverage some of gaming’s biggest franchises like Call of Duty and Candy Crush. Well, it seems we just got our first big clue.

Earlier in October 2023, Xbox head Phil Spencer had hinted at plans for a mobile store to bring Xbox to smartphones and tablets.

And now speaking at the Bloomberg Technology Summit, Xbox president Sarah Bond finally confirmed that the store (yet-to-be-named) will launch in July 2024 as a web-based platform.

What Games will be featured?

At launch, Bond stated the Xbox mobile store would primarily feature the company’s own first-party mobile games like Minecraft and King’s Candy Crush Saga.

Popular mobile titles from Activision Blizzard like Call of Duty: Mobile could also make an appearance.

However, Microsoft plans to eventually open the store up to third-party game partners as well.

The goal seems to be creating an open mobile gaming platform and marketplace similar to the App Store and Play Store.

Why a web-based store?

At first, Microsoft’s Xbox mobile store will launch as a web-based platform rather than a designated app.

According to Xbox president Sarah Bond, this will allow them to create “an experience that’s accessible across all devices, all countries, no matter what, and independent of the policies of closed ecosystem stores.”

In shorts:

  1. To avoid restrictive policies from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store
  2. Accessible across all devices and countries
  3. Users’ identities, libraries, and rewards can travel seamlessly across devices

What are the challenges?

Launching a web-based mobile gaming store presents several challenges for Microsoft.

First, it may be difficult to position the store as a viable alternative to existing mobile games already available on rival app stores.

Second, the user experience and functionality of a web-based store may not match the seamless integration offered by native app stores.

Additionally, Microsoft may face regulatory hurdles or resistance from platform holders as it attempts to extend its store beyond the web.

How Will This Differentiate from Existing Mobile App Stores?

The key difference Microsoft is pushing is a seamless, cross-device experience centered around your Xbox gaming identity.

Instead of games being siloed into different mobile app stores, your full library would be accessible from the Xbox mobile store no matter what device you’re on.

Over the years, Microsoft has been anticipating companies like Apple being forced to open up their mobile platforms.

But the company isn’t waiting around, instead pushing forward with its own cross-device gaming initiative.

Why Now?

Despite often being overshadowed by the big console game makers, mobile gaming brought in a staggering $90.5 billion globally in 2023 according to Newzoo – nearly matching the revenue of PC and console combined.

Much of this mobile gaming boom is driven by emerging markets where affordable smartphones are ubiquitous, but dedicated gaming hardware is less common. Some mobile games like Tencent’s Honor of Kings boast tens of millions of players as a result.

So by creating a browser-based mobile store, Microsoft is positioning itself for a huge slice of this lucrative pie.

And with Candy Crush tapped as a launch franchise, they’ve already got a mobile juggernaut under their belt that has generated over $20 billion in revenue to date.

Of course, Microsoft’s new store won’t be without competition.

Currently, the vast majority of mobile games are distributed through Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store on iOS and Android respectively.

Microsoft’s cross-platform approach is likely an attempt to circumvent the historically high revenue cuts taken by these dominant app stores. It follows Apple being forced to loosen some restrictions after their legal battle with Epic Games.

Source: The Verge

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