Microsoft Plans to Unveil a Mobile Gaming Store, Challenging Apple and Google

(GeekWire File Photo / Nat Levy)

Microsoft made an unexpected announcement on Thursday, declaring its intention to debut a mobile gaming store within this year.

The announcement was made during an interview with Xbox’s Sarah Bond at a Bloomberg event.

Bond mentioned that this yet-to-be-named store is set to open in July through web browsers instead of a dedicated app. Microsoft’s recently acquired Candy Crush Saga will be a flagship title available from the first day.

This move by Microsoft into the mobile gaming sector—currently the most profitable segment of the gaming industry—has been anticipated, especially following the company’s $69 billion acquisition of the major developer Activision Blizzard King, based in California.

Phil Spencer, head of Xbox, indicated in November that the company was engaging with other partners about the possibility of initiating a mobile store.

This development introduces a new competitive dynamic between Microsoft and both Google and Apple, who currently dominate mobile game sales and downloads via their app stores.

Bond emphasized to Bloomberg that the Microsoft mobile store would be truly cross-device, allowing players’ identities, libraries, and rewards to move with them across devices rather than being confined to a single ecosystem.

GeekWire has approached Microsoft for additional comments, and updates will be provided upon receiving a response.

With the acquisition of Activision, Microsoft now owns the Candy Crush series, a major revenue generator in the mobile gaming world. In September, King, the developer behind Candy Crush, celebrated reaching $20 billion in revenue with the latest installment, Candy Crush Saga.

Although it receives less media attention, the global mobile gaming market nearly equals the combined revenues of the PC and console sectors. According to Newzoo, mobile gaming contributed $90.5 billion to the global revenue of the gaming industry.

This is mainly because of emerging markets, where consumers may not own a computer or gaming console, but most of them have smartphones. Some mobile games have tens of millions of players, such as Tencent’s Honor of Kings.

Bond’s announcement follows Microsoft’s contentious decision to close several studios under Bethesda Softworks, including Tango Gameworks (Hi-Fi Rush) in Japan, citing resource reallocation and challenges in managing the volume of projects within Xbox Game Studios.

The launch of Microsoft’s new store also comes after Apple was compelled to modify its app-store policies following a legal dispute with Epic Games, which challenged Apple’s revenue-sharing policies and “walled garden” approach as anti-competitive. The 2021 lawsuit concluded with both sides claiming partial victories.

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