Microsoft Wants To Build Its Own Mobile Gaming Store

As the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigates Microsoft’s $68.7 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, Microsoft recently revealed in its filings with the CMA that it plans to create a new “Xbox Mobile Platform” that will include mobile games by Activision and King, TechCrunch reported.

According to TechCrunch, Microsoft also added in its filings with the CMA, “Mobile revenues from the King division and titles such as ‘Call of Duty: Mobile’, as well as ancillary revenue, represented more than half of Activision Blizzard’s revenues and in the first half of 2022.”

The Verge reported that Microsoft is building an Xbox mobile store to directly offer games on mobile devices, challenging Apple and Google. The software giant first hinted at a “next-generation” store it would “build for games” earlier this year, but has now quietly revealed details of the plans in filings with the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

The Verge posted a portion of Microsoft’s filings:

The transaction will improve Microsoft’s ability to create a next generation game store which operates across a range of devices, including mobile as a result of the addition of Activision Blizzard’s content. 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 Platform. 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.

According to The Verge, Microsoft could leverage ‘Call of Duty: Mobile’ and ‘Candy Crush Saga’, two hugely popular games published by Activision and King, respectively, and Microsoft could leverage these titles to help build out a game store to rival Google Play and the App Store. Given Apple’s policies blocking third-party app stores on iOS, it’s difficult to imagine Microsoft competing on iPhones anytime soon. But that’s clearly not stopping it from envisioning an Xbox mobile app store.

Forbes reported: “While we may have all suspected this was probably the case, Microsoft, as part of its ongoing effort to get its acquisition of Activision Blizzard approved, has revealed that Sony has been blocking Call of Duty from coming to Games Pass, and may continue to block it even if the deal ultimately goes through.

Forbes pointed out that Microsoft told the CMA: “The agreement between Activision Blizzard and Sony includes restrictions on the ability of Activision Blizzard to place Call of Duty title on Game Pass for a number of years.” According to Forbes, this is significant because this is part of the deal that Phil Spencer referenced when he said Microsoft had the “intent to honor all existing agreements upon acquisition of Activision Blizzard.”

It would be interesting if the U.K.’s CMA decides against Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard specifically because Sony has objections to allowing Microsoft to have access to ‘Call of Duty’. Perhaps the CMA could allow the transaction to go through, but without ‘Call of Duty’.