Xbox's Phil Spencer says Xbox needs to be 'relevant' on mobile

Diablo Immortal
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer recently made a guest appearance on the Official Xbox Podcast. 
  • Speaking on the recently-finalized acquisition of Activision Blizzard King, Spencer talked about how Xbox has to be "relevant" on mobile. 
  • Spencer is visiting King headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden, and wants to learn from the success of existing mobile games. 

Xbox needs to expand to mobile games. 

That's per Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer, when he spoke during a guest appearance on the Official Xbox Podcast. Spencer talked about the recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard King, and how a huge part of the deal was Xbox needing strength in mobile games. 

"We've got to be relevant on mobile, there's just no way really to plot the future without being on the platform that most of the planet plays on," Spencer says. "I needed to find a team that's had amazing success."

Spencer talked with Microsoft CFO Amy Hood about possible mobile acquisition targets, eventually realizing that Activision Blizzard King was the best one. Leaked documents from the Microsoft vs. FTC court hearing earlier in the year also revealed that Spencer had to looked into Microsoft acquiring mobile publisher Zynga, but the company was instead bought by Take-Two Interactive.

Diablo Immortal is a game designed for mobile and co-developed by Blizzard Entertainment.  (Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment Inc.)

A huge chunk of Activision Blizzard King's mobile strength has come from King, a dedicated mobile publisher responsible for games like Candy Crush. Spencer noted that he's visiting King's headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden first before checking in on the other recently acquired studios. 

Activision Blizzard King has also published mobile titles under the Activision branch with Call of Duty: Mobile, and at Blizzard Entertainment with Diablo Immortal. According to Spencer, he wants to learn from all of these teams, while also assuring fans that Xbox console and Windows PC games aren't being removed. 

 "It doesn't mean I want to turn all of our franchises into mobile franchises, it doesn't mean everything is going to go free-to-play," Spencer explains, adding that the diversity of the brand is a strength. 

"The truth of the matter is if you're going to continue to be relevant in gaming at at a global scale you're going to have to find a way to be relevant on the largest platform, which is mobile."

Analysis: What's that store going to look like?

While Microsoft's acquisition of ZeniMax Media provided some mobile development capability at Alpha Dog Games and Bethesda Game Studios (which just quietly published an Elder Scrolls mobile game), the massive mobile franchises at Activision Blizzard King are on another level.

Spencer has previously discussed wanting to create a unified Xbox store that extends to mobile devices with dedicated mobile games, so now that this deal is done, it'll be interesting to see how that work unfolds. 

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.

  • fjtorres5591
    MS needs to put mobile games on XBOX and, above all Cloud.
    (Even if with an Android layer like on Windows.)
    People like mobile games on their phone? Give'em a chance to relax playing them in the living room.

    The also need to put their PC-only games on XCLOUD not just NVIDIA'S.
  • Iamdumbguy
    Somehow being relevant on mobile won't include not running the grossest scams on kids that is King's core business.