Microsoft plans to drastically expand the reach of Xbox Live, bringing the online community to iOS and Android devices.
Hints of this move, which will let Xbox Live players take their groups, achievements, friends lists, games progress, and more to their smartphones, first surfaced in February. Microsoft confirmed the plan to bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android via a new software development kit ahead of the big Game Developers Conference next week.
A GDC session description last month foreshadowed the expansion of Xbox Live, and it also included the Nintendo Switch console as one of the platforms set to become compatible with the service. In a pre-briefing with reporters, Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft corporate vice president of gaming cloud, said he didn’t have anything to announce related to the Switch. He also declined to share any details about compatibility with PlayStation 4 in a briefing with reporters ahead of the conference.
The move fits with the tech giant’s larger strategy under CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft has increasingly been seeking to make its apps and services work across a variety of platforms, including those that the company has traditionally considered rivals.
This strategy opens Microsoft up to a huge new audience on all kinds of devices. The expansion of Xbox Live extends its reach from the 400 million Xbox and Windows 10 gaming devices, to a couple of billion devices worldwide.
The failure of its Windows Phone division left Microsoft without a major presence in the smartphone market, but that hasn’t stopped the company from making significant moves to integrate smartphone and console gaming. Perhaps the biggest of all is Project xCloud, a new initiative being developed to let users play high-powered Xbox games on their smartphones.