Microsoft to Launch Own Mobile-Game Store, to Compete With Apple, Google


Microsoft Corp is set to launch its own online store for mobile game consumables in July, presenting an alternative to Apple Inc. and Google‘s app stores and their associated fees.

The browser-based store will initially feature Microsoft’s own games, offering discounts on in-game items linked to titles such as Candy Crush Saga. Xbox President Sarah Bond disclosed this development Thursday at the Bloomberg Technology Summit. Subsequently, Microsoft plans to extend access to the store to other game publishers.

Bond emphasized that the store will debut on the web rather than as a standalone app, ensuring accessibility across all devices and countries, regardless of the policies of closed ecosystem stores. Microsoft identified an opportunity to create a store that transcends device boundaries, enabling users to seamlessly carry their identity, library, and rewards across multiple platforms, including consoles, computers, and mobile devices. Microsoft’s immensely popular cross-platform game, Minecraft, may be among the early offerings on the web store, according to Bond.

“This web-based store is the first step in our journey to building a trusted app store with its roots in gaming,” stated an Xbox spokesperson in an email.

Apple and Google currently dominate the app store landscape for game developers, charging a hefty fee of approximately 30% on sales. Microsoft’s gaming head, Phil Spencer, revealed in late 2023 that the company is in discussions with partners to launch its own Xbox app store.

The European Union’s Digital Markets Act, which came into effect this year, has paved the way for tech companies to establish their own direct-to-consumer web stores, circumventing Apple and Google’s fees. In early May, some TikTok users reported encountering links to a TikTok web store, offering discounted TikTok coins.

While Microsoft initially lagged behind its competitors in entering the $90 billion mobile gaming market, its Xbox unit is now poised to make a significant impact following its $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the owner of Candy Crush and Call of Duty. Candy Crush, launched in 2012, boasts 5 billion downloads and has generated $20 billion in revenue.

Since 2020, tech giants have been embroiled in a battle over the future of digital storefronts for mobile games, sparked by Epic Games Inc.’s Project Liberty campaign. Epic’s announcement of a 20% discount for purchasing Fortnite currency on its own website prompted Apple and Google to remove Fortnite from their app stores, leading Epic to file lawsuits against both companies, alleging illegal monopolistic control over their mobile ecosystems.