Microsoft’s Mobile Store Is a Hard Sell
There’s only one thing you can say for certain about the current mobile phone gaming market: the stores are pretty locked in. It’s Google Play or it’s Apple’s App Store. Microsoft’s plans for a third alternative is going to have an uphill struggle.
This has slowly been coming out over the course of the company’s purchase of Activision. One of the big reasons for the purchase – on top of Call of Duty and hundreds of other Game Pass friendly IP – is for the Candy Crush company, King. It’s hoped between King’s stuff and Call of Duty mobile, this will provide a foundation for the new store.
This would be a good thing. That just two stores can control the lion’s share of all that massive mobile revenue is outrageous. And it’s not necessarily even about which phone you have. I use the Apple store for movies, and I’m sure I’d end up using Google’s store for things if I wasn’t so already in their ecosystem.
But naturally it isn’t as easy as it being nice to have an alternative. It’s not enough to want the market to be fairer, or for things to work out a certain way. It needs to catch people’s imagination. There are too few ways for a Microsoft store to do that.
Seriously. There are few things I find less interesting than where I get my apps from. If it’s easy to find on my phone, then it’ll get used.
To ask me to actively hunt out your store, as some kind of statement against Google or Apple is insanity. Maybe some people will try, but it’s not going to be enough.
Microsoft’s Store: What’s the Plan?
So what exactly is the plan to make the Microsoft store stand out? I suspect there isn’t one, but here are a couple of mild things that may help.
The first is a no-brainer. There will be some kind of Game Pass integration. There will be a mobile section to Game Pass that will contain a variety of things to download, and probably some built-in cloud functionality too. Good idea, but only if the uptake is there. It’d push subscriptions – in theory. Although if the only reason to download the app is to tie in with what you already have, it seems pointless.
Then, it just becomes another place to download some apps, with maybe some incentives tied in. Maybe you get cashback for using it, or a free game once in a while. Or whatever other idea has been tried and tested before. And maybe it works, but it seems a difficult sell. Who cares where you buy your eggs so long as they’re the same thing?
I suppose the final thought in all this is one of a little more optimism. Microsoft doesn’t need to become the biggest player in the market for their own store to make sense. All they need is to make it profitable, and that’s a far smaller challenge.
Sure, it might not break the duopoly of Android and Apple. But it might just make enough money to make it an interesting venture. And if it adds another string to the Game Pass bow, then that can only be a good thing too.