Microsoft could launch mobile game store by 2024

Microsoft is looking to challenge Apple and Google with a proprietary mobile games store.
A Warcraft mobile game is seemingly in the works

Microsoft is reportedly on the cusp of launching its own mobile game store for iOS and Android devices, in an effort to reach new audiences and dilute the Apple-Google monopoly. Speaking to the Financial Times, Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer confirmed plans are in the works, with the company currently targeting 2024 for a potential launch.

‘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,’ Spencer said. ‘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.’

Read: The best mobile games of 2022

Plans for a proprietary mobile games store were first revealed in late 2022, amidst the furore over Microsoft’s plans to acquire Activision Blizzard. At the time, the company made clear that it had no active presence in the mobile games scene – and that this was cause for concern as market trends shifted.

‘In terms of the Activision opportunity, and I keep saying this over and over – and it is true – it definitely starts with a view that people want to play games on every device that they have. That’s just a place where if we don’t gain relevancy as a gaming brand – we’re not alone in seeing this – over time, the business will become kind of untenable, for any of us,’ Spencer told The Verge‘s Decoder podcast at the time.

Later, a company filing with the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) confirmed Microsoft was building an ‘Xbox mobile store’ to potentially bring Activision Blizzard and King games to a new storefront.

Read: Activision Blizzard acquisition is about Candy Crush, says Microsoft

‘Building on Activision Blizzard’s existing communities of gamers, Xbox will seek to scale the Xbox Store to mobile, attracting gamers to a new Xbox Mobile Platform,’ the filing read. ‘Shifting consumers away from the Google Play Store and App Store on mobile devices will, however, require a major shift in consumer behavior. Microsoft hopes that by offering well-known and popular content, gamers will be more inclined to try something new.’

To launch the platform, regulatory change will need to occur – as Apple does not currently allow rival app stores on its devices – however, it appears change is imminent. As The Verge points out, the EU Digital Markets Act is currently looking into Apple and Google’s policies, in an effort to overturn their strict, anti-competitive stances.

‘The Digital Markets Act that’s coming – those are the kinds of things that we are planning for,’ Spencer said of recent developments. ‘I think it’s a huge opportunity.’

Should new legislation pave the way for increased competition, Microsoft aims to be on the front lines, with its planned mobile games offering designed to tempt players to alternative game sources. Spencer is enthusiastic about progress, and the potential for this store to launch by 2024. Stay tuned to hear more about these ambitious plans.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.