Microsoft looks set to jump (back) into the world of mobile, according to a report from The Verge.
The report notes how Microsoft wanted to build a “next-generation” store that would be “built for games” earlier this year.
However, more details have come to light more thanks to the ongoing Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] hearing here in the UK.
The CMA, of course, is looking into the Activision Blizzard King acquisition by Microsoft.
Within the filings to the CMA’s investigation, Microsoft stated how the merger will help;
“…improve Microsoft’s presence in the mobile segment, where Activision holdsc/o CMA
an established position (particularly through King); support Microsoft’s investments in its multi-game subscription service, Xbox Game Pass, and improve user engagement/adoption amongst
Xbox and PC users; improve Microsoft’s ability to create a ‘Universal Store’ (extending the Xbox
digital storefront across non-Xbox platforms and devices)”.
Of course, this “Universal Store” is what Microsoft is looking into in regard to a stronger mobile presence. An oft-overlooked element of the Activision Blizzard King acquisition is that of the mobile powerhouse, King. Arguably, the biggest piece of the ABK trio, King has been one of the most profitable studios in the market.
However, Microsoft does have a couple of large roadblocks in the way of getting a stronger mobile presence; Apple and Google.
Both companies have their own smartphones and, naturally, their own operating systems and, of course, their own storefronts.
We’ve seen in the past how both – particularly Apple – are not too keen on allowing outside developers to launch their own games/products on the mobile store if it means cutting out the middle man. Heck, Epic had to circumvent Apple entirely to get Fortnite back on iOS for a brief period of time.
And even if (and it is a big if) Microsoft was able to get a functioning Xbox mobile platform up and running on Android and/or iOS, both operating systems have strong bonds with their respective consumers. This is something Microsoft acknowledges, as it notes how “shifting consumers away [from Google Play Store and the App Store] will, however, require a major shift in consumer behaviour”.
The biggest asset Microsoft has at its disposal in this area, of course, is Activision Blizzard King. Activision’s Call of Duty: Mobile, Blizzard’s Diablo: Immortal and King’s many games (notably Candy Crush Saga) have 100+ million, 10+ million, and one billion + downloads respectively.
These three titles alone could be enough to leverage a shift towards an Xbox mobile platform.
Of course, there’s also Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which is already available on mobile platforms.
And, notably, Microsoft has been quick to support Razer, Valve, and Logitech with Xbox’s cloud-gaming platform on these company’s respectively handhelds [the Razer Edge, Valve’s Steam Deck, and the Logitech G Cloud gaming handheld. In fact, the G Cloud has a strong presence on the Xbox.com website already].
This also means that maybe Microsoft is not just looking at mobiles and/or tablets. The world of “mobile” gaming is now bigger than just your mobile phone, after all.
It will be interesting to see just how big this proposed “Universal Store” becomes, and, perhaps most importantly, how quickly.
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ABG’s Senior Editor (News), YouTube content creator/streamer.