Overwatch's console players are getting wrecked by keyboard and mouse users

You don't say!

Some gamers are using a keyboard and mouse (KBM) instead of controllers to play Overwatch on consoles, and Blizzard isn’t happy about it whatsoever.

“The Overwatch team objects to the use of mouse and keyboard on console,” game director Jeff Kaplan said on the Battle.net forums, as first spotted by PC Gamer. “We have contacted both first-party console manufacturers and expressed our concern about the use of mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices.”

Kaplan was responding to a growing forum thread discussing the advantages higher level players receive by playing on a keyboard and mouse against controller users. There are also many other forum and Reddit posts discussing the same topic.

Universal plug-and-play for keyboard and mouse isn’t officially supported on consoles, but users can purchase third-party devices such as the Xim 4 adapter to get past that issue. 

The issue doesn’t necessarily affect lower level Overwatch players, but once you rise up to the competitive ranks of the game (around master or higher) you apparently start to notice the difference—especially if you’re playing with a controller.

While a player can fat finger a running escape on their keyboard, the mouse, which controls the weapon in shooting games, is deadly. It allows for much faster aiming and far more precise targeting than a controller. That may be why Microsoft’s recently introduced multi-player cross-platform play for Gears of War 4 limits console and PC users to competing in unranked matches alone.

Not everyone supports Kaplan’s call that could lead to banning KBM play. A few gamers argued that since console games are designed for controllers, a keyboard and mouse player is limited to what a controller could theoretically do. The counter to that argument, however, is that a KBM setup takes a gamer to the upper limits of a controller’s capabilities regardless of their actual skill level.

Another argument is that KBM interfaces allow gamers with disabilities to play console games they otherwise wouldn’t. True, these players could stick to PC games where KBM controls are standard, but if all your friends are on PlayStation or Xbox Live that’s where you’d want to be too.

The impact on you at home: It’s hard to say where Microsoft and Sony are heading with KBM on consoles, but it’s likely towards native, universal keyboard and mouse support—something Kaplan can get behind. “We have lobbied and will continue to lobby for first-party console manufacturers to either: Disallow mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices OR openly and easily support mouse and keyboard for ALL players,” Overwatch’s game director wrote in his forum post.

The state of keyboard and mouse on consoles

Last June, Microsoft’s Xbox Chief Phil Spencer said native plug-and-play KBM support for the Xbox One was “likely months away.” More than six months later, official support still hasn’t arrived, and a recent comment from Spencer on Twitter downgraded KBM on Xbox One from months away to something the company would “like to add” to the platform. With the Xbox One and PC in a constant state of merger thanks to Windows 10, it’s likely we’ll see universal KBM support for Xbox One eventually.

On the Sony side, some PlayStation 4 games such as Final Fantasy XIV already have native support for KBM. There’s also a mechanical keypad and mouse combo specifically designed for the PlayStation 4—Sony even advertises it on its site.

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Ian Paul

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