Microsoft will launch a games store for iPhone and Android devices in a bid to take on Apple and Google.
That’s according to Phil Spencer, chief executive of Microsoft Gaming, who told the Financial Times (FT) in an interview Monday (March 20) that the launch could come as soon as next year, assuming regulators approve his company’s $75 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard.
Next year will also see the enforcement of new rules under the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, requiring Apple and Google to open their platforms to third-party app stores.
“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 Spencer. “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.”
The FT notes that Microsoft is battling regulators from the EU, U.K. and the U.S. over concerns about its Activision Blizzard acquisition.
As PYMNTS reported in December, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says it plans to block the deal, arguing that Microsoft’s purchase of the video game developer’s franchises would hinder competition in both gaming consoles and subscription services.
That’s because, the FTC contends, the deal would let the company limit its rivals’ access to popular series like “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft.” The commission says Microsoft did that when it acquired ZeniMax, parent of game developer Bethesda Softworks, and then made several of Bethesda’s titles exclusive to Microsoft.
“Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals,” FTC Bureau of Competition Director Holly Vedova said last year.
Spencer argues the deal could increase competition in what he called the “largest platform people play on” — smartphones — where Apple and Google dominate.
“The Digital Markets Act that’s coming — those are the kinds of things that we are planning for,” he told the FT. “I think it’s a huge opportunity.”