Xbox head says Microsoft's mobile game store could arrive next year

Phil Spencer says the move is dependent on Activision acquisition approval.

Kevork Djansezian / reuters

Microsoft is preparing to launch an Xbox store on iOS and Android as early as next year, according to Phil Spencer. The head of the company’s gaming division shared the timeline in a Financial Times interview published on Monday, noting the plan is dependent on regulators approving Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

“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 told the outlet. “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.”

Microsoft first revealed it was working on an Xbox store for mobile devices in regulatory documents the company filed with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year. At the time, the tech giant didn’t provide a timeline for the plan, noting only its proposed merger with Activision Blizzard would play a critical role. Spencer was more direct on Monday. “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.”

Under the Digital Markets Acts (DMA), major platforms the European Union designates as “gatekeepers” will be required to open their devices to competing app stores. Last fall, a Bloomberg report said Apple was already at work preparing to make iOS compliant with the legislation ahead of its March 2024 deadline. The EU will allow companies it labels as gatekeepers to appeal the designation, a carveout that could delay enforcement of the law. Additionally, with challenges from the Federal Trade Commission and CMA, there’s no guarantee Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard will close before the new rules apply to Apple and Google, a fact Spencer seemed to acknowledge when interviewed by the Financial Times. However, he said it would be “pretty trivial” for Microsoft to adapt its existing Xbox and Game Pass apps to sell games and subscriptions through mobile devices.