Report: Microsoft, Razer push to bring mouse and keyboard support to Xbox

Will developers allow Xbox gamers using a mouse and keyboard to square off against their PC cousins?

Credit: Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

Ever since Microsoft launched the Xbox One, it’s been making noises about bringing the console and PC closer together—including adding mouse and keyboard support to supplement the Xbox One controller. Now, through a partnership with Razer, that evolution appears closer to reality.

Windows Central reports that Microsoft and Razer jointly presented a partnership on the Razer Turret earlier this year, touted as the “ultimate keyboard and mouse solution for Xbox One.” Notably, the USB mouse support uses the same APIs as those used within Windows, so you’d be able to unplug a mouse used with your PC and attach it to the Xbox.

As simple as that sounds, however, you might wonder why it’s taken so long for “true” mouse and keyboard support to arrive on the Xbox. After all, Microsoft began talking about it as far back as two years ago. Both Windows and the Xbox have gone through multiple updates to their operating systems since then.

Simply remapping controller functions to different forms of input may be taking a backseat to competitive issues. According to Windows Central, Microsoft also published advisories on how mouse and keyboard support—considered to be a more precise form of input than a controller—could affect game play.

Windows allows PC gamers to tweak mouse input controllers to allow for nearly instantaneous leaps across the screen, while controllers are generally considered to be slower and less precise. Competitive gameplay in, say, Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds would be dramatically affected if Xbox players using a controller could challenge Xbox players using a mouse and keyboard—and take on PC players as well.

Microsoft also said that because the presence of a mouse and keyboard could be detected, gamers could be restricted to special modes or queues segregated by input mode. It would be up to the developers to decide whether and how to implement it.

It’s worth noting that you already can play with mouse and keyboard on the Xbox version of Minecraft, though that’s much more of an exploration game than anything else.

What this means to you: The Verge reports that Microsoft and Razer made their presentation at the Xfest developer conference last year, which would give the report additional legitimacy. But mouse and keyboard support is certainly a minefield for gamers and developers alike: Should devs include it, and create special queues for PC gamers and console gamers to play together? Or would those same devs see it as fragmenting a base group of players? Mouse and keyboard support is virtually required for any sort of real-time-strategy game, but for first-person, competitive shooters—where tensions run high already—it might be tricky.

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Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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