Xbox could be getting its own mobile store on iPhone and Android — this is big

Xbox Games Showcase 2023 keyart
(Image credit: Microsoft)

The smartphone gaming market is one of the stranger markets for developers at the moment. It has been completely under the control of both Apple and Android for most of its life, but that looks like it could change after some comments from the head of Xbox’s video game division, Phil Spencer.

During an interview at the CCXP comics convention in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Spencer indicated the company's focus on mobile gaming options. Spencer’s comments, first reported by Bloomberg, emphasized the substantial available market for Game Pass in Brazil and the country's tendency to lead the way globally for many trends. He stated that Xbox was aiming to increase its mobile presence in the region.

Xbox Game Pass is the current streaming service for Microsoft, working on both consoles and PCs. The service allows players to download games to their console or computer and play them while paying a subscription fee.

The service has recently been in the news due to Xbox’s purchase of Zenimax Studio, the parent company of Bethesda Softworks. The company also finalized a $68 billion deal to acquire Activision Blizzard, despite several legal setbacks. While Blizzard is most known for the Call of Duty series, it also owns King, the maker of Candy Crush. A press release last year stated how the acquisition would accelerate the gaming business growth in mobile, PC and console platforms.

Despite Xbox being one of the market leaders in the console industry, it has never managed to transfer that success to the mobile market. While there is an Xbox app available for both iPhone and Android, the latter of which can use remote play, it has never managed to make a working app store. However, it is arguably a good time to do so, and Xbox has some of the best resources to compete. 

App Store

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The issue that was holding the big gaming developers from releasing titles on phones had to do with the market control both Apple and Google had. Both companies designed their systems so that apps could only be implemented through their stores. They were able to control when the apps were available and had some control over the price. They also could command as high as a 30% commission from any sales that were made. 

However, Epic Games started a court case against Apple, claiming that the company held a monopoly on the market. This case has also been repeated against Google, but there is no resolution yet. While Epic lost the case, Apple and Google have cut their commission rates from 30% to around 15%. Another blow Apple and Google  was the part ratification of the EU’s Digital Market Act. This act, in theory, will mean that the companies will need to allow third-party app sellers to work on their devices.

This means that it would be possible for Xbox to push its app store onto both devices. Combining this with the acquisitions of some major developers with experience in the mobile gaming market, an Xbox app store could be a major destabilizing factor.

Spence refused to specify any dates or times for a potential release, but he assured Bloomberg, "I don't think this is multiple years away." While it is arguably the best time to consider branching into the mobile market, it is also still a big risk and there are challenges present. However, Xbox seemingly has been working on this for a while and has the means to make a very strong showing.  

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Staff Writer

Josh is a staff writer for Tom's Guide and is based in the UK. He has worked for several publications but now works primarily on mobile phones. Outside of phones, he has a passion for video games, novels, and Warhammer.