In a new interview, Team Xbox head Phil Spencer makes the case for why Microsoft has to enter the mobile gaming space, and why their pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard is crucial to make that happen.
Phil gave this statement while talking to Verge in their Decoder podcast:
“I don’t think anybody needs that quote from us to understand how irrelevant we are in mobile. Anybody who picks up their phone and decides to play a game would see that on their own.
In terms of the Activision opportunity, and I keep saying this over and over, and it is true, it definitely starts with a view that people want to play games on every device that they have, and in a funny way, the smallest screen that we play on is actually the biggest screen when you think about the installed base in phone.
That’s just a place where if we don’t gain relevancy as a gaming brand – we’re not alone in seeing this – over time, the business will become kind of untenable, for any of us. If we’re not able to find customers on phones, on any screen that someone wants to play on, you really are going to get segmented to a niche part of gaming that running a global business will become very challenging.”
Microsoft’s history in mobile gaming has been fraught, to say the least. While their interest in mobile goes so far back that it’s a popular hip-hop meme, their actual attempts are now famous failures with Pocket PC/Windows Mobile in the 1990s, and Windows Phone in the 2010s. Neither project, of course, was able to successfully compete with iPhone and iOS, and also Android, for a multitude of reasons. While both projects had their shortcomings, ultimately it was the way iOS and Android became fully realized mobile platforms, that also successfully drew in developers, that led to Microsoft’s downfall.
So, Phil is speaking to a well-known internal failing in Microsoft, which has led to the company missing out on a lot of revenue. To a broader extent, it has also mean they have been left behind by other companies on this one specific point.
But this is why Microsoft have been making moves, such as enabling Windows 11 to run .apk files, the old format used for Android apps and programs. We had also been reporting on their plans to build a mobile gaming store, as well as their intent to bring Xbox Live to mobile (and the Nintendo Switch!) as far back as 2019.
But what does this all have to do with Activision Blizzard? As it turns out, a lot.
In the second financial quarter of this year, Activision Blizzard made $ 332 million on PC video games, $ 376 million in console video games, and $ 831 million on mobile. Gamers like us may still think of Activision Blizzard as a console games company first, but on the business side, it’s mobile that is the biggest part of their business.
So gamers may continue to be incredulous, but Microsoft has good reason to buy Activision Blizzard for their mobile division alone. With all that said, there’s no reason for them to want to dominate with these franchises on Xbox as well.
Source: News Journal