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Image credit: Timothy J. Seppala, Engadget

Here's how Xbox One games will handle mouse and keyboard support

The first games to allow these peripherals are coming 'soon.'
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
09.03.17 in AV
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Timothy J. Seppala, Engadget

Microsoft has been promising mouse and keyboard support on the Xbox One for ages, but it's finally getting close. As part of a PAX West panel, the company's Mike Ybarra revealed that the first Xbox One games to support these peripherals are coming "soon," and that the company already has an idea as to how it'll handle support. A lot of it will be "up to developer choice," Ybarra says, but Microsoft will "coach" studios to make sure they add the feature responsibly -- it's aware that there are potential balance problems.

The big concern is in multiplayer, where mouse and keyboard players could have advantages in some games (they can maneuver more quickly in shooters, for example). Microsoft would prefer that developers offer the choice of playing only against rivals with similar controllers, so players who can't or don't want to buy extra peripherals won't be at an automatic disadvantage. Also, support won't be mandatory. Ybarra says that's "based on developer interest."

To some extent Microsoft has already been experimenting with support between Gears of War 4 (where there have been mixed-input online playlists) and Minecraft's Better Together update (which has some mouse and keyboard functionality). However, it's difficult to say how well support will pan out once compatible games arrive in earnest. Will studios honor Microsoft's recommendations? And if they do, will they risk splitting the community? There's also the temptation to offer 'lazy' ports of PC games where the gamepad interface is almost an afterthought. It's likely that creators will accommodate both control methods in order to reach as many players as possible, but there could be some hiccups as producers get used to the concept.

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