Microsoft has been hinting and suggesting that Xbox One games might see mouse-and-keyboard compatibility for a long time, but we haven’t heard anything concrete. Personally, I didn’t really think it would ever happen. But not only is it still happening, but it’s not too far off, either. Xbox exec Mike Ybarra said during a PAX West panel this weekend that the support is coming “soon,” and that they’re talking internally about how they’ll handle it.
“Keyboard and mouse support is definitely coming; we have to be very smart about how we do that,” Ybarra said. “We’ll leave it a lot to developer choice.”
The company wants to “coach” developers, and let them decide how they want to implement it.
Mouse vs. Controller
A lot of it, Ybarra rightly says, comes down to multiplayer. Microsoft tried to integrate controller and mouse players eons ago with the Shadowrun game on Xbox 360. It didn’t work. And it’ll never work. Instead, the company wants to help these developers figure out how to separate those out – to let people choose to play with mixed or separate player pools. In a cooperative or casual game like Minecraft, playing with a mouse-and-keyboard player isn’t going to be a big deal. The “Better Together” update coming to that game is going to unify Xbox, Switch, Android, iOS, and Windows 10 players, so they’re already courting a ton of different control schemes there. Integrating the support for mouse and keyboard on Xbox One in Minecraft is purely about support. Competitive games, though, would quickly become toxic without a way to separate those players out from each other.
This is a big tightrope for Microsoft to walk. The support could frustrate as many fans as it pleases, but as Engadget notes, developers could use the support as an excuse to skimp on proper controller interfaces. They certainly do that plenty already with console-to-PC ports.
Either way, this is good news for gamers. More options and more ways to play on more systems means it’s easier to get in and start having fun.