Xbox to launch mobile game store in July, competing with Apple and Google

It will be web-based to avoid both the App Store and Play Store

Xbox will launch its own mobile games store in July.

Sarah Bond, president of Xbox, confirmed the release window alongside other details at the Bloomberg Technology Summit. While she didn’t mention an official name for the storefront, Bond noted that it will be available on the web first so that it’s accessible “across all devices, all countries, no matter what and independent of the policies of closed ecosystem stores.”

Bond doesn’t mention Apple by name, but it’s clear she’s referring to the tech giant following previous criticism of the App Store’s walled garden. Going with a web-based mobile store will also circumvent the 30 percent cut that both the App Store and Google’s Play Store take from each purchase. However, Bond did say Xbox will “extend from there [the web],” suggesting plans for some kind of dedicated mobile app in the future.

In terms of what the storefront will offer, Bond said it will first feature games from Xbox’s first-party portfolio, including Minecraft and Candy Crush, the latter of which it now owns following its recent acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

An Xbox mobile gaming store has been in the works for at least a few years now. In fact, Microsoft CEO of Gaming Phil Spencer has been open about one of the company’s main reasons for acquiring Activision Blizzard was to leverage its extensive experience in the mobile space, which includes games like Candy Crush and Call of Duty: Mobile. Bond said the Xbox mobile store will eventually include titles from third-party partners, although specific companies weren’t mentioned.

Microsoft is set to hold its annual Xbox Games Showcase on June 9th, so it may reveal more details about the store then. The company is also expected to feature the next Gears of War and Call of Duty at this event.

Elsewhere in the Bloomberg Technology Summit, Bond was questioned about Xbox’s decision to shutter four studios this week, including Tango Gameworks (Hi-Fi Rush) and Arkane Austin (Dishonored). This was her response:

“It’s always extraordinarily hard when you have to make decisions like that. I’ll go back to what I was saying about the industry. When we looked at those fundamental trends, we feel a deep responsibility to ensure that the games we make, the devices we build, the services that we offer are there through moments, even when the industry isn’t growing, when you’re through a time of transition. The news we announced earlier in the week is an outcome of that — in our commitment to make sure that the business is healthy for the long term.”

She went on to add that “our focus is on the people impacted and doing everything that we can do to help them through this hard transition.” While this is a pretty standard PR response, it’s the first public one we’ve gotten from Xbox leadership since news broke about the closures.

Instead, we’ve had reports from the likes of Bloomberg and The Verge about comments made by Xbox Games Studio boss Matt Booty at a recent town hall. According to Booty, leadership at Bethesda felt understaffed to handle all of these studios, which contributed to the decision to axe them. At the same time, Booty said Xbox needed smaller, awards-worthy games like Hi-Fi Rush, which many felt was a puzzling statement after closing down the studio that made it.

It remains to be seen how else Xbox will respond to the significant criticism it’s received over these closures.

Image credit: Xbox

Source: Bloomberg

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