If its $75 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard is approved by authorities, Microsoft is prepared to launch a new app store for games on iPhones and Android cellphones as early as next year, according to the president of its Xbox division.
According to the EU’s Digital Markets Act, new regulations mandating Apple and Google to open up their mobile platforms to app stores owned and run by other businesses are anticipated to go into effect starting in March 2024.
“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 Phil Spencer, chief executive of Microsoft Gaming, in an interview ahead of this week’s annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
“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.”
What are the Problems Facing by Microsoft to Launch its Games App Store?
The owner of the Xbox platform is battling with regulators in the US, Europe, and the UK over potential effects on competition from the acquisition of Call of Duty, one of the most well-known video game brands in the world. Sony, creator of the PlayStation, has been a prominent opponent of the agreement.
Although Apple and Google control what some antitrust authorities have referred to as a “duopoly” over the distribution of games and other apps, Spencer said that the agreement may increase competition in what he called the “largest platform people play on” smartphones.
“The Digital Markets Act that’s coming — those are the kinds of things that we are planning for,” he said. “I think it’s a huge opportunity.”
The EU is anticipated to name Apple and Google “gatekeepers” under the DMA, obliging them to alter the regulations governing how apps are delivered on iPhones and Android devices.
The major tech firms, though, might file an appeal against the classification, postponing its implementation until after the deadline in March.
Spencer acknowledged that it was difficult to forecast with precision when Microsoft would be able to open its own shop, but he said that Microsoft’s Xbox and Game Pass apps could be “quite trivially” modified to enable the sale of games and subscriptions on mobile devices.
Activision Blizzard was required by Microsoft to fix a “obvious hole in our competence” caused by the absence of mobile games at the moment.
He added popular games like Candy Crush Saga, Diablo Immortal, and Call of Duty Mobile, as well as others in development, would be “critically important” in luring users away from Apple and Google’s app stores and towards an Xbox mobile store.
Microsoft and Apple have been at odds about how the software giant’s Xbox Game Pass cloud-based gaming service works on iPhones for years.
Microsoft claims that Apple’s App Store guidelines prevent it from providing cloud gaming through a single native iPhone app, requiring users to utilize a web browser and degrading performance.
Apple has denied blocking cloud gaming apps, although App Store guidelines demand that developers disclose every game on the store separately.
Apple prohibits the purchasing of individual games from a storefront within native apps, which is akin to restrictions on Amazon’s Kindle E-reader app.
Following its Mobile Ecosystem Market Research, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority declared in November that it was looking into Apple’s position on cloud gaming.
The CMA, however, is proving to be a big obstacle in the way of Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard after the organization last month claimed the transaction presented several competition concerns that could only be addressed by a spin-off of its successful Call of Duty brand.
Microsoft has claimed that selling Call of Duty would make the transaction it first announced in January last year, less compelling.
It is trying to convince the CMA that suggested behavioral remedies, like pledges to license Call of Duty to other consoles and cloud services, like its most recent agreements with Nintendo and Nvidia, would allay its worries.
As part of a deal to allay competition concerns with EU regulators, Microsoft had reportedly made “binding commitments” to the European Commission in Brussels to make Activision Blizzard content available to other cloud gaming providers.
According to these sources, the concessions were an indication that Brussels authorities had waived several major objections in order to focus their inquiry on cloud gaming.
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