Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer talks 'huge opportunity' for Xbox mobile store, which may arrive in 2024

Diablo Immortal
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment Inc.)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer recently offered additional comments on how Microsoft aims to build a mobile Xbox storefront following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. 
  • Spencer points to the upcoming Digital Markets Act as a "huge opportunity," as the act will change rules around how the largest companies in mobile gaming can act.
  • Microsoft currently has an extremely limited presence in mobile gaming. 
  • Activision Blizzard has a huge presence in mobile gaming, with games like Call of Duty: Mobile, Candy Crush, Diablo Immortal, and many more.

While we've known for some time now that Microsoft wants to build a mobile Xbox store following the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, some new comments shed additional light on exactly how it could work. 

Speaking at GDC (via Ars Technica), Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer talked about how the upcoming Digital Markets Act in the EU would provide a "huge opportunity" for Microsoft to create a mobile store for Xbox

“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.”

Under the The Digital Markets Act, extremely large mobile platforms such as those owned by Apple and Google will be called "Gatekeepers," with a new set of rules around how these companies should act in order to promote fairness in competition. Those rules are set to take effect on March 6, 2024.

While Microsoft currently owns 24 game development studios across Xbox Game Studios and Bethesda Softworks, it maintains an extremely limited place in mobile gaming, with the small team at Alpha Dog Games under Bethesda currently working on Mighty Doom for mobile devices.

With the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft will gain numerous development teams and existing or upcoming mobile games, such as Call of Duty: Mobile, Call of Duty: Warzone Mobile, Candy Crush, Diablo Immortal, and more. The acquisition has been approved in a handful of countries like Brazil, but Microsoft still needs to deal with regulators in the U.S, the UK, and Europe.

Microsoft has signed numerous deals with Cloud gaming companies in order to help get clearance for this purchase, as well as signing an agreement with Nintendo and offering similar terms to Steam parent company Valve.

Windows Central's take

This continues to reinforce what Phil Spencer and others at Microsoft have said for some time: As much as Sony and many others may not believe it, the deal to buy Activision Blizzard is mainly about mobile gaming.

I know mobile gaming isn't something that excites a lot of people in hardcore gaming circles, but it makes ludicrous amounts of money and is one of the most accessible forms of gaming on the planet. Microsoft needs a presence in mobile in order to elevate Xbox further, and that's expertise that Activision Blizzard can provide. 

Samuel Tolbert
Freelance Writer

Samuel Tolbert is a freelance writer covering gaming news, previews, reviews, interviews and different aspects of the gaming industry, specifically focusing on Xbox and PC gaming on Windows Central. You can find him on Twitter @SamuelTolbert.