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Week in Views – Xbox’s Mobile Games Store is doomed to fail | Pocket Gamer.biz

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Week in Views - | Pocket Gamer.biz

The games industry moves quickly and while stories may come and go there are some that we just can’t let go of…

So, to give those particularly thorny topics a further going over we’ve created a weekly digest where the members of the PocketGamer.biz team share their thoughts and go that little bit deeper on some of the more interesting things that have happened in mobile gaming in the past week.

Craig Chapple
Head of Content
Craig Chapple is a freelance analyst, consultant and writer with specialist knowledge of the games industry. He has previously served as Senior Editor at PocketGamer.biz, as well as holding roles at Sensor Tower, Nintendo and Develop.

Xbox mobile games store launches on web in July

Microsoft’s new mobile game store is launching in July!

But it’s going to be web-based.

And it will only include Microsoft games like Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft at launch. Everyone has played or owns the former. And the latter is already available everywhere.

It’s great that Microsoft wants to challenge Apple and Google – its store will, of course, open up to other publishers. There’s no inside track on the terms yet, but a 30% revenue cut would make it dead on arrival for third-party titles it doesn’t pay to bring on board.

I’m generally quite pessimistic about the opportunity of new mobile game marketplaces. Including Epic’s attempt coming later this year.

Government scrutiny and regulation – like the Digital Markets Act – over app store monopolies is welcome and necessary, but the App Store and Google Play are far and away the defacto standard.

If the Xbox Mobile Games Store launched tomorrow, how big could it be? There is no doubt an audience for the games it could provide, but how large? It will ultimately never be bigger than the App Store and Google Play.

And how do you get the casual consumer to install your store as an app, or visit it on the web? Free-to-play was born out of convenience and accessibility. A web store is neither of these things.

It’s a monumental task to get consumers to break habit and leave behind the familiarity and ease of use of the App Store and Google Play. Just because you want to make money in the mobile space, it doesn’t mean you can launch a store and consumers will flock to your marketplace and stay there.

Week in Views - Xbox's Mobile Games Store is doomed to fail | Pocket Gamer.biz

You only need to look at the heavy investments Epic is making on PC to take a fraction of Steam’s sales to see the mountain Microsoft and others have to climb to get consumers change their store of choice. (Although, creating a better store experience on mobile will be a lower hurdle than overcoming Valve).

And just to be clear – I’m not saying web stores pointing consumers toward web payments won’t work. That’s already been proven as a massive opportunity that benefits publishers and consumers. Playtika makes approximately 25% of its revenue from its direct-to-consumer platform, while games fintech company Aghanim says the share for developers could be as high as 55%, representing an $18 billion opportunity.

Asking a player to make the effort of leaving to a web store where there’s a clear value proposition for them makes sense.

Getting them to download Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft again through another store? Not so much. Maybe Microsoft has a play to bring it all together But we’ll have to wait until closer to the store’s launch and perhaps even its next hardware lineup reveal to see if has a real cross-platform plan – or if it’s just throwing darts at a wall.

I hope my prediction is wrong, though. The App Store and Google Play desperately need competition. And in games, Microsoft and Epic are some of the most likely to provide it.

Week in Views - Xbox's Mobile Games Store is doomed to fail | Pocket Gamer.biz

Daniel Griffiths
Editor – PocketGamer.biz
Daniel Griffiths is a veteran journalist who has worked on some of the biggest entertainment media brands in the world. He’s interviewed countless big names, and covered countless new releases in the fields of videogames, music, movies, tech, gadgets, home improvement, self build, interiors and garden design. Yup, he said garden design… He’s the ex-Editor of PSM2, PSM3, GamesMaster and Future Music, ex-Deputy Editor of The Official PlayStation Magazine and ex-Group Editor-in-Chief of Electronic Musician, Guitarist, Guitar World, Rhythm, Computer Music and more. He hates talking about himself.

Apple’s iPad problem isn’t new hardware – it’s new software

Of course, we all love a new Apple announcement and – as PocketGamer.biz’s resident (but highly critical) Apple ‘fanboy’ – I was right there at the edge of my seat when, earlier this week, it finally clarified and upgraded its confusing iPad line.

The iPad has always been an odd fish. At once a ‘big phone’ and a ‘mini Mac’, it too easily falls between two stools for many, and, as phones have got bigger, the use case for ‘a tablet’ has increasingly diminished.

Thus hundreds of thousands of iPads go un-upgraded each year as each becomes ‘the thing in the kitchen’ that you casually glance at, or read from, or use as a spare TV for media consumption. Somehow the iPad is pure simplification and luxury rather than being anything you actually need…

Week in Views - Xbox's Mobile Games Store is doomed to fail | Pocket Gamer.biz

So Apple upgrading its new iPad Pro with its fastest chip ever (and giving it better cameras, a new 5.1mm thick case – making it their thinnest device ever – and an uprated OLED screen) is pure overkill for the most ‘mum-friendly’ device it makes.

So Apple must have something up its sleeve. All this power and no utility to use it? We’re hoping and praying for a major (most likely AI-fuelled) upgrade to what iOS is and does. And that could come as soon as June 10th at the company’s annual WWDC event.

Such a reveal will not only give the new iPad a reason to exist, but also fuel a dwindling iPhone upgrade cycle and – perhaps – make this year (and iPhone 16) worthy of an upgrade.

We hope – for Apple’s sake – that while its hardware continues to soar, it doesn’t skimp on the really smart stuff too.

Week in Views - Xbox's Mobile Games Store is doomed to fail | Pocket Gamer.biz

Aaron Astle
News Editor
Aaron is the News Editor at PG.biz and has an honours degree in Creative Writing.
Having spent far too many hours playing Pokémon, he’s now on a quest to be the very best like no one ever was…at putting words in the right order.

“Rovio x Sega” is real as Sonic Rumble enters closed beta May 24th

It’s here already – the first fruit from the union of Sega and Rovio and – surprise surprise – it’s got a speedy blue hedgehog on board. What’s not to like?

While I’d be churlish (insane?) to complain about the fusion of minds and brands coming from Sega and Rovio, I have to question the authenticity and volume of creative juices flowing for Sonic Rumble. Battle Royale? Colourful characters on levels and landscapes? Sorry… isn’t this just Sonic meets Stumble Guys?

Hey, don’t knock it. If you’re going to go chasing a game, Stumble Guys is a prime candidate for cloning. With countless partnerships, in-game events and endorsements, Stumble Guys has rewritten the book on what’s possible with a mobile franchise… even if it is – itself – a copy of Fall Guys, the game that came before it.

Week in Views - Xbox's Mobile Games Store is doomed to fail | Pocket Gamer.biz

So let’s just say my attention and interest is ‘piqued’ at this point. We’re certain that the brains behind Sonic and Angry Birds can work magic, and without having seen and played the game we, of course, have to reserve judgement.

But as a huge fan of Stumble Guys and a long-term fanatic on all things Sonic, my expectations are high.

Rovio and Sega. I’ve every confidence in your ability to create greatness – but this is one fan of your IP who’s watching your next moves very carefully.

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