Microsoft is planning to build its own mobile games store for iPhones and Android smartphones as soon as next year if regulators approve its $75 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the media reported.
According to Microsoft’s gaming head Phil Spencer, the EU’s Digital Market Act (DMA), which takes effect in March 2024, will assist the company in meeting its mobile app store ambition, allowing companies to load their app stores on iPhones and Android phones by asking Apple and Google to open up their systems, reports the Financial Times.
“We want to be in a position to offer Xbox and content from both us and our third-party partners across any screen where somebody would want to play,” Spencer was quoted as saying.
“Today, we can’t do that on mobile devices but we want to build towards a world that we think will be coming where those devices are opened up,” he added.
Microsoft is battling regulators in the US, Europe, and the UK, who have all expressed concern about the potential impact on competition of the Xbox console’s owner purchasing the developer of Call of Duty, one of the world’s most popular game franchises.
Last month, Microsoft formally received an antitrust warning from the European Union over its bid to acquire Activision Blizzard.
According to a report in Politico citing sources, the notice said that EU officials “laid out the reasons why the deal could threaten fair competition on the video game market.”
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also sued tech giant Microsoft from acquiring leading video game developer Activision Blizzard.
Moreover, the report said that Spencer believes the deal will increase competition in what he calls the “largest platform people play on” — smartphones — where Apple and Google currently have what some antitrust authorities call a “duopoly” over the distribution of games and other apps.
“The Digital Markets Act that’s coming — those are the kinds of things that we are planning for. I think it’s a huge opportunity,” he said.
The EU is expected to designate Apple and Google as “gatekeepers” under the DMA, requiring them to change the rules governing app distribution on iPhones and Android devices.
However, the Big Tech companies may file an appeal, delaying enforcement beyond the March deadline, the report said.
Last month, the tech giant signed a 10-year contract with Japanese gaming giant Nintendo to bring Xbox games, including Call of Duty (CoD) to Nintendo’s gamers, which came ahead of a hearing in the European Union.