"We’re going to have to be strong across many screens.” Xbox lead Phil Spencer says Microsoft is working with partners on a mobile gaming store to take on Apple, Google

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What you need to know

  • During the ongoing CCXP 2023 convention, Microsoft Gaming CEO and Xbox head Phil Spencer spoke about the firms plans to build a mobile gaming store.
  • Specifically, Spencer said that Microsoft is in talks with its partners to develop the store, and that he doesn't "think this is multiple years away."
  • Spencer often spoke about the importance of strengthening Microsoft's mobile gaming position when discussing the company's recent $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard King.
  • The mobile gaming market is currently almost entirely dominated by an Apple and Google duopoly. However, Microsoft could prove to be a disruptive competitor in the space.

Microsoft is in talks with its partners to develop a mobile gaming store to challenge Apple and Google's reigning duopoly in that market, according to the company's Xbox and gaming head Phil Spencer.

“It’s an important part of our strategy and something we are actively working on today not only alone, but talking to other partners who’d also like to see more choice for how they can monetize on the phone,’’ said Spencer, who reportedly spoke in an interview in Sao Paulo during the ongoing CCXP 2023 convention.

Though Spencer didn't give a concrete release date for the store, he did comment that he believes its arrival won't be too far off. “I don’t think this is multiple years away, I think this is sooner than that,’’ he said. Notably, a report in March suggested that this Xbox mobile store could arrive in 2024.

Diablo Immortal, a mobile spinoff of Blizzard Entertainment's popular ARPG franchise Diablo, is now owned by Microsoft. (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Microsoft's interest in the mobile gaming industry has been well known for quite a long time now, with Spencer often speaking of the importance of Xbox staying "relevant" on mobile when discussing the firm's recently completed $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard King. That deal has given Microsoft control of popular mobile games like Candy Crush, Call of Duty Mobile, and others, helping it compete in the space.

At present, the mobile gaming market is almost entirely dominated by Apple and its App Store on iOS devices and Google's Google Play Store on Android. Apple is particularly restrictive with its policies, as it blocks third-party stores from its devices and takes a 30% cut from nearly all game and in-app purchases. 

Fortnite developer Epic Games famously battled Apple over this issue and lost, though it approached the U.S. Supreme Court in September this year to ask it to hear its case. Apple has approached the Supreme Court as well, and is also challenging the European Union’s Digital Markets Act that could force it to adjust its App Store rules starting in March 2024.

With this upcoming store, Spencer says Microsoft is hoping to offer mobile gamers a viable option that disrupts Apple and Google's duopoly. “We’ve talked about choice, and today on your mobile phones, you don’t have choice,’’ he noted. “To make sure that Xbox is not only relevant today but for the next 10, 20 years, we’re going to have to be strong across many screens.”

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.