Microsoft has announced its plans to build its own mobile games store for iPhones and Android smartphones as early as next year, subject to regulatory approval of its $75 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The gaming giant's head, Phil Spencer, stated that the company wants to offer Xbox and content from both itself and third-party partners across any screen where somebody would want to play.
Currently, Microsoft cannot offer its gaming services on mobile devices. However, the European Union's Digital Market Act (DMA), which takes effect in March 2024, may assist the company in meeting its mobile app store ambitions. The DMA allows companies to load their app stores on iPhones and Android phones by asking Apple and Google to open up their systems.
Despite Microsoft's plans to expand its gaming services, the company faces regulatory scrutiny from the US, Europe, and the UK. These regulators have expressed concerns about the potential impact on competition of the Xbox console's owner purchasing the developer of Call of Duty, one of the world's most popular game franchises.
Last month, the European Union issued an antitrust warning to Microsoft over the bid, citing potential threats to fair competition on the video game market. Similarly, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has sued Microsoft, alleging that the acquisition would harm competition in the gaming industry.
However, Spencer remains optimistic about the deal's potential to increase competition in the smartphone space. Currently, Apple and Google have a "duopoly" over the distribution of games and other apps. Spencer believes that the DMA will open up opportunities for Microsoft and other companies to offer their gaming services on mobile devices.
Microsoft has signed a 10-year contract with Japanese gaming giant Nintendo to bring Xbox games, including Call of Duty, to Nintendo's gamers. The deal came ahead of a hearing in the European Union, where Microsoft faced antitrust scrutiny.
Overall, Microsoft's plans to expand its gaming services into the mobile space are ambitious. However, the company faces significant regulatory hurdles that it must overcome to achieve its goals. Only time will tell if Microsoft's mobile games store will become a reality, and if it will have a significant impact on the gaming industry.