Microsoft is already hard at work preparing for a world in which Apple is forced to allow third-party app stores on iPhone. In an interview with the Financial Times, Microsoft Gaming head Phil Spencer said that the company wants 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.”
An Xbox app store on iPhone?
In particular, Spencer references the Digital Markets Act, a new piece of legislation that will go into effect in the European Union in 2024. As previously reported, the DMA will require that Apple loosen its grip on the iPhone and allow third-party App Store alternatives for the first time.
“The Digital Markets Act that’s coming – those are the kinds of things that we are planning for,” Spencer said in the interview. “I think it’s a huge opportunity.”
While Microsoft wants to offer its Xbox ecosystem on any platform, Spencer acknowledged that this currently isn’t possible on mobile devices. “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,” he said.
According to Spencer, smartphones are the “largest platform people play on” currently. He added that it would be “pretty trivial” for Microsoft to “adapt its Xbox and Game Pass apps to sell games and subscriptions on mobile devices.”
All of this, however, hinges upon Microsoft’s deal to acquire Activision Blizzard receiving regulatory approval. Spencer acknowledged to the Financial Times that Microsoft’s current “lack of mobile games” represents an “obvious hole in our capability.” This deal, however, is facing regulatory scrutiny of its own.
Through the Activision Blizzard deal, however, Microsoft will add hit games such as Call of Duty Mobile, Diablo Immortal, and Candy Crush Saga to its arsenal. These would be “critically important” in enticing iPhone users to use an Xbox app store.
Microsoft and Apple have sparred for years over App Store rules that prohibit Microsoft from offering a dedicated cloud gaming app on the iPhone. Apple’s policies require that each game be listed individually on the App Store. Instead, Microsoft offers its Xbox Cloud Gaming service as a web-based app for iPhone and iPad users.
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