Microsoft ports Xbox Live to Android, iOS to extend the reach of Xbox

Previously, Microsoft appeared poised to widen the reach of its gaming ecosystem, connecting games on iOS, Android, and even the Nintendo Switch to its Xbox Live multiplayer platform.

Only two of the three came through, however, as Microsoft announced Thursday that its Xbox Live SDKs would be ported to Android and iOS. As for the Switch, Microsoft had no comment.

Sharing achievements, friends lists, and gameplay was the first step toward establishing Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem within the Windows PC and Xbox console. According to Windows Central, Microsoft was preparing to unveil a cross-platform SDK (or XDK) at the Game Developers Conference in March at a special session. That session, once named “Xbox Live: Growing & Engaging Your Gaming Community Across iOS, Android, Switch, Xbox, and PC,” now has been renamed “Xbox Live: Growing & Engaging Your Gaming Community Across Platforms,” and its description scrubbed of the juicy details.

The original site description made the intent clear. “Now Xbox Live is about to get MUCH bigger. Xbox Live is expanding from 400M gaming devices and a reach to over 68M active players to over 2B devices with the release of our new cross-platform XDK,” it said. “Get a first look at the SDK to enable game developers to connect players between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox and any game in the Microsoft Store on Windows PCs.” 

Microsoft said Thursday that Xbox Live would be ported to both the Android and iOS mobile platforms, bringing Xbox’s game identity and achievements to both of the mobile platforms. As the platform suggests, you’ll be able to notch Xbox Live achievements on both the PC, Xbox, and now the iPhone and on Android devices.

The Xbox Live integration was actually just a small part of what Microsoft’s calling Game Stack, a set of developer tools that includes Visual Studio, Mixer, DirectX, Azure App Center, Visual Studio and Visual Studio Code, and Havok.

Microsoft announced five new developer services: PlayFab Party, adapted from Xbox Live party chat; PlayFab Matchmaking, also adapted from Xbox Live: PlayFab Game Insights, offering player telemetry and data powered by Microsoft’s Azure cloud, PlayFab Pub Sub, a content service, and PlayFab User Generated Content.

Tying mobile games to the PC

The Xbox Live integration concept doesn’t seem that far removed from the status quo. Microsoft published an Xbox app for iOS in 2013, and another for the Android platform. Both are slightly more limited versions of the Xbox app already on Windows 10, allowing players to view achievements, connect to friends, and see what’s available on the Xbox Store. A similar Game Pass app is also available on both mobile platforms, allowing users to manage Microsoft’s Netflix-like game subscription.

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