New mobile game store being launched by Microsoft

Microsoft is set to launch its own online store for mobile-game consumables in July, providing an alternative to the Play Store and the App Store and their associated fees.

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The browser-based store will initially feature Microsoft’s own games, offering discounts on in-game items linked to popular titles like Candy Crush Saga. Xbox President Sarah Bond announced the development at the Bloomberg Technology Summit on Thursday. Following the launch, the store will eventually welcome other publishers.

Bond emphasized that the store will debut on the web rather than as an app, ensuring accessibility across all devices and countries, independent of closed ecosystem store policies. Microsoft aims to create a store that seamlessly spans devices, enabling users to carry their library, identity, and rewards across platforms.

The company intends to facilitate gaming across consoles, computers, and mobile devices, with its flagship cross-platform game Minecraft likely to join the web store early on.

“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 via email.

Apple and Google currently dominate the app store landscape, imposing roughly 30% fees on sales, prompting Microsoft to explore alternatives. In late 2023, Microsoft gaming head Phil Spencer revealed plans to launch its own Xbox app store, inspired in part by the European Union’s Digital Markets Act, which encourages direct-to-consumer web stores.

Microsoft’s foray into the mobile gaming market comes after its acquisition of Activision Blizzard for $69 billion, positioning its Xbox unit to capitalize on Candy Crush’s immense success, with 5 billion downloads since 2012, generating $20 billion in revenue.

The tech industry has been embroiled in battles over digital storefronts since Epic Games Inc.’s Project Liberty campaign in 2020, which saw Epic challenging Apple and Google’s control over mobile ecosystems. Epic’s move led to legal disputes and Fortnite’s removal from app stores after offering discounts on its own website. Epic subsequently filed lawsuits against both tech giants, alleging monopolistic control over their platforms.