xbox store

Xbox Is Launching Its Own Mobile Game Store In July To Compete With Apple And Google

Hi-Fi RUSH is out, Candy Crush is in.

Although it had already flagged its intentions to wedge its way into the duopoly of mobile gaming storefronts currently led by Apple and Google in the past, Microsoft has now revealed its intent to launch its own mobile game store ecosystem as soon as July this year.

As Bloomberg reports, Xbox president Sarah Bond announced the first details of the store rollout during this week’s Bloomberg Technology Summit in San Francisco, where it was revealed that the store will launch with Microsoft’s own (and recently-acquired) titles like Candy Crush Saga, where users will get discounts on in-game items as an incentive to buy into its own service. The store will then be opened up to other publishers at a later date.

It’ll also debut on web first, rather than a native app, which Bond says is being done to ensure it’s “accessible across all devices, all countries, no matter what, independent of the policies of closed ecosystem stores.”

Currently, the giants of Apple and Google notoriously charge fees up to around 30% for all transactions made via their platforms, and Apple in particular hasn’t exactly been willing to let others compete on its devices. That idea is beginning to shift with things like the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, which has made it possible for other companies to launch competing storefronts in the regions where the Act applies. The idea of something like a Microsoft-run store would be to reduce the costs associated with selling on App Store or Google Play Store and entice customers to its own store with lower prices or added benefits.

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It’s also a key piece of the company’s long battle to acquire Activision Blizzard King, which was finalised last year and means it already has ownership of a stable of mobile games like Candy Crush and Call of Duty Mobile. Minecraft was also flagged by Bond as a potential addition.

Of course, this news comes in the midst of a media shitstorm after Xbox closed a handful of its studios, including beloved teams like Arkane Austin and Tango Gameworks. The move has been widely criticised, especially in the case of Tango with its most recent title, Hi-Fi RUSH, being a critical darling, award-winner and – by Xbox’s own accounts – a measured success.

A further comment from head of Xbox Game Studios, Matt Booty, to employees at ZeniMax that cited a desire for “smaller games that give us prestige and awards,” added insult to injury in the wake of the closure of a studio that had just delivered that exact thing. When asked about the closure of Tango in the face of its public success during the Bloomberg Live discussion, Bond looked visibly unprepared for the line of questioning and offered up nearly 60 seconds of a non-answer. You can see that moment and the rest of the discussion in the video below: