Microsoft Will Introduce Web-Based Xbox Mobile Game Store

Microsoft Xbox President Sarah Bond announced the company plans to launch a web-based mobile game store in July, creating a new rival for Google Play and Apple’s App Store. Speaking at the Bloomberg Technology Summit, Bond said the web venue was selected so a single store could serve all users in all countries, “independent of the policies of closed ecosystem stores.” Initially the focus will be on Microsoft games, opening later to other publishers. “This web-based store is the first step in our journey to building a trusted app store with its roots in gaming,” Microsoft said in a post-even statement.

“Microsoft’s blockbuster cross-platform game ‘Minecraft’ may be an early addition to the web store,” according to Bloomberg, which says the site will launch with “discounts on in-game items associated with titles like ‘Candy Crush Saga.’”

With its gaming library greatly expanded thanks to its $69 billion purchase of Activision Blizzard, finalized in October,  the company is well-positioned to capitalize on what Bloomberg says is a $90 billion mobile gaming market by opening a digitial storefront.

“Candy Crush” alone has been downloaded around 5 billion times since it debuted in 2012, generating an estimated $20 billion in revenue.

“This web-based store is the first step in our journey to building a trusted app store with its roots in gaming,” an Xbox spokesperson told Bloomberg subsequent to Bond’s onstage interview Thursday in San Francisco.

“The European Union’s Digital Markets Act, which went into effect this year, freed tech companies to start their own direct-to-consumer web stores and avoid Apple and Google’s fees,” Bloomberg notes, adding that “in early May, some TikTok users reported seeing links to a TikTok web store, where they could purchase TikTok coins at a discount.”

While the store will initially focus on mobile games, The Verge reports that “key parts of the Xbox experience will also be available,” with Bond making the case for “a gaming platform and store experience that ‘goes truly across devices — where who you are, your library, your identity, your rewards travel with you versus being locked to a single ecosystem.’”

While Bond seemed clear that the web is a first-step, to the extent that the Xbox store will live there in the early days it “will be challenging to pull off,” suggests The Verge, adding that “it’s not immediately clear how Microsoft will position this as an alternative to these mobile games already existing on rival app stores.”

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