Microsoft-owned Xbox could be bringing its own app store to your Android and Apple phone according to the company’s gaming chief, Phil Spencer. If it does, we could see some of our favorite apps and games get cheaper on mobile.
Microsoft currently offers a few mobile gaming experiences, such as Minecraft and Xbox Game Pass streaming, but its new efforts could see you turning to its own store rather than the iPhone’s App Store or the Android Google Play Store.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Phil Spencer said “We want to be in a position to offer Xbox and content from both us and our third-party partners across any screen.” This means it’ll need to continue its console and PC gaming efforts, but also expand its mobile efforts.
However, Xbox’s mobile game store launch isn’t yet guaranteed. Spencer explained that the launch can only happen if two things happen first.
For starters, Microsoft needs to complete its acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The takeover – which was announced over a year ago on January 18, 2022 – hasn’t yet been finalized as regulatory bodies across the globe are still investigating if it would give Microsoft too much of an advantage over rivals such as Sony. Alongside Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4, Activision Blizzard owns a slew of mobile games (including Candy Crush, Hearthstone, and Crash Bandicoot: On the Run!) which the Xbox Game Store would need to rely on to fill out its catalog.
Additionally, the Xbox app store would rely on the enforcement of the EU's Digital Markets Act and other regulations. These new rules – which were passed in December 2022 but won’t be enforced until March 2024 – should force Apple to open up its iPhone platforms to alternative app stores. However, Apple looks set to only make changes in Europe where the rules apply.
App Store, Xbox game store, what’s the difference?
Does it really matter where you get your mobile games and apps from? Is there going to be that big a difference between Apple's App Store and Microsoft’s Xbox store? We don’t know for certain, but an Xbox store launch could result in cheaper prices and more apps.
Apple and Google currently take a cut of the revenue made by apps on their mobile stores – 15% for smaller developers and 30% for larger ones. However, if Microsoft was releasing its own apps on its own store it wouldn’t need to take a cut as it would make 100% of the revenue, so it could lower prices for the same services.
As these games would potentially be more profitable – as Microsoft wouldn’t have to share the revenue with anyone – we could also see it launch more new games and apps that are exclusive to its platform. Microsoft would have a large library of properties to work with (from Halo, to Call of Duty, to Spyro, to Fallout, as well as its Microsoft 365 productivity apps) so it could very likely find something to spin out for its new store.
There's another potential benefit. At the moment, if you buy games from the Apple App Store for your iPhone, and then decide to switch to an Android phone later, then you'd have to re-buy your apps and games from the Google Play Store. This, of course, happens if you go from Android to iPhone. However, if the Microsoft app store is cross platform, it may mean you'd only have to buy them once.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens, but if Microsoft launches its own Xbox store on mobile don’t be surprised if others like Epic Games and Spotify – vocal opponents to the App Store’s 30% revenue cut – look to do the same.
Don't want to wait for Xbox to launch its own app store? Here are the best iPhone games and best iPhone apps you can download today.