Microsoft is bringing its Xbox Live network to iOS and Android devices. The software giant is launching a new cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) for game developers to bring Xbox Live functionality to games that run on iOS and Android. Xbox Live features like achievements, Gamerscore, hero stats, friend lists, clubs, and even some family settings will all be available on iOS and Android.
It’s all part of a bigger push from Microsoft to make its Xbox games and services available across multiple platforms. Game developers will be able to pick and choose parts of Xbox Live to integrate into their games, and it will all be enabled through a single sign-in to a Microsoft Account. Microsoft is using its identity network to support login, privacy, online safety, and child accounts.
“We believe so strongly in community, and Xbox Live really being at the heart of our gaming community,” explains Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft’s gaming cloud chief in a media briefing this week. “If you watch what we’ve done, especially with Minecraft, over the past few years we’ve taken Xbox Live to as many platforms as Minecraft is on as possible. Really uniting all those communities together with a consistent singular experience for those gamers.”
Microsoft wants game developers to take a similar Minecraft approach and bring Xbox Live to more mobile games. Some iOS and Android games already have Xbox Live Achievements, but they’re only enabled in titles from Microsoft Studios at the moment and this new SDK will open up Xbox Live functionality to many more games.
If you were hoping to see Xbox Live on Nintendo Switch then you might have to wait a little longer. “Our goal is to really unite the 2 billion gamers of the world and we’re big fans of our Xbox Live community, but we don’t have any specific announcements as it relates to Switch today,” reveals Choudhry. Xbox Live on PlayStation 4 also looks unlikely, but Microsoft is open to the idea if Sony is willing to allow it. “If you’ve watched us for the past few years, we’ve taken a very inclusive approach,” says Choudhry. “Phil [Spencer] has been very proactive on issues like crossplay, cross-progression, and uniting gamer networks, and we’re willing to partner with the industry as much as we possibly can.”
This new mobile SDK is part of a bigger push from Microsoft for cloud gaming and developer tools. The software maker is announcing a new Microsoft Game Stack for developers just ahead of the annual Game Developers Conference (GDC). Microsoft Game Stack combines all of the company’s developer tools, services, and platforms with Azure and PlayFab, the platform of services that help developers build and launch cloud-connected games. Microsoft acquired PlayFab last year, and this is the first major milestone for the service.
PlayFab will now be part of Microsoft’s cloud tools and Azure, allowing developers to spin up multiplayer servers for games with matchmaking, voice and chat services, and user-generated content. Microsoft Game Stack will also include DirectX, Mixer, Power BI, Havok, Visual Studio, Windows, Xbox Game Studios, Xbox Live, and Simplygon. It’s a whole mix of Microsoft’s most powerful game development tools under a more manageable single platform.
Microsoft is also aggressively pursuing its vision of Xbox Game Pass and xCloud game streaming, to bring games to devices other than PCs or Xbox consoles. Microsoft demonstrated its xCloud service for the first time this week, promising public trials for streaming Xbox games to iOS, Android, Mac, and PCs later this year. Microsoft is also bringing Minecraft to its Xbox Game Pass, a service that is often described as the “Netflix for games.”
Xbox Game Pass is key to xCloud and Microsoft’s push for its own games on multiple devices. Xbox Game Pass is a monthly subscription service for $9.99, allowing Xbox owners to download and install more than 100 games, including Microsoft’s latest first-party games like Crackdown 3, Sea of Thieves, and Forza Horizon 4. Microsoft has also committed to launching all of its own games on Xbox Game Pass at the same time as they hit stores, meaning Halo Infinite, the next Gears of War, and additional Forza titles will all come to Xbox Game Pass.