Microsoft’s Approach to App Stores
As of yesterday, Microsoft announced a new set of Open App Store Principles that will apply to the Microsoft Store on Windows and to the next-generation marketplaces they will build for games. They’ve accordingly developed these principles to address Microsoft’s growing role and responsibility as they start the process of seeking regulatory approval in capitals around the world for the acquisition of Activision Blizzard. The regulatory process begins while many governments are also moving forward with new laws to promote competition in app markets and beyond. Microsoft wants regulators and the public to know that as a company, Microsoft is committed to adapting to the new laws, and with these principles.
What does this all mean, however? Nothing in particular other than that Microsoft wants to be able to bring otherwise platform-exclusive titles to more platforms. Since the acquisition of Activision Blizzard, the big question has been whether titles like Call of Duty will become an Xbox exclusive. While Sony has expressed expectations that Call of Duty would remain on its platform, Microsoft has made it clear that it sees Call of Duty in the same way it sees Minecraft: as a multi-platform franchise that will draw gamers to Microsoft’s services.
This is not just Call of Duty. Microsoft wants to bring more Activision Blizzard games to more platforms, including the Nintendo Switch. As with the success of Minecraft, it’s leaving the door open for Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Diablo to remain on multiple platforms or expand elsewhere.
As Microsoft president Brad Smith revealed: “Microsoft will continue to make Call of Duty and other popular Activision Blizzard titles available on PlayStation through the term of any existing agreement with Activision.” That commitment extends into the future, too. “And we have committed to Sony that we will also make them available on PlayStation beyond the existing agreement and into the future so that Sony fans can continue to enjoy the games they love,” says Smith.
Though some have argued Smith’s comments to leave the door open for Microsoft to make parts of Call of Duty exclusive to Xbox, the company’s intention is pretty clear; to make both campaign and multiplayer available on all platforms.