What Blizzard Thinks About Using A Mouse And Keyboard With A Console

(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)

Some console gamers have been using third-party keyboard and mouse peripherals in Overwatch, their first-person, team-based shooter game. The company had some rather direct and unflinching words to spare on those who use a keyboard and mouse while playing on the Xbox One and PS4.

Over on the Battle.net forums, game director Jeff Kaplan explained that they want either Microsoft and Sony to support all keyboard and mice natively or not allow them at all, saying...

The Overwatch team objects to the use of mouse and keyboard on console. We have contacted both first-party console manufacturers and expressed our concern about the use of mouse and keyboard and input conversion devices. 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.

The comment may read contradictorily, but Kaplan is actually pointing to third-party peripheral manufacturers who allow players to use keyboards and mice in games like Overwatch on the PS4 and Xbox One where native keyboard and mouse support is not implemented. Some players think it's cheating since you get better precision from a mouse, and can out-maneuver players using a controller. Gamers wanted Blizzard to clarify what their position was on console players out-scoring opponents due to using keyboards and mice.

Weirdly, Kaplan seems to put the onus on Microsoft and Sony, but it would seem like device support is up to the developers. For instance, Sony isn't in charge of natively adding PSVR support into third-party games, so why would they be in charge of natively adding peripheral support in third-party games?

It's still up to developers to optimize their game for the hardware, and just like how Capcom took the extra time to make Resident Evil 7 compatible with the PlayStation VR headset, I'm not entirely sure why Blizzard hasn't taken steps to enable native support for third-party keyboards and mice for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One for use in Overwatch.

Kaplan, later on in the thread, acknowledges that native peripheral support is "very much [Blizzard's] problem" but they need "help from [Blizzard's] partners." I'm not entirely sure what sort of help he's talking about. Usually the console manufacturers leave it up to developers to pick and choose what peripherals are allowed for use in their games. So if Blizzard wants full mouse and keyboard support to be natively implemented for Overwatch on PS4 and Xbox One, why not just add support for those peripherals?

Right now third-party keyboards and mice essentially emulate gamepad functionality on PS4 and Xbox One. Some games support native device functionality, but most games read third-party keyboards and mice as emulated gamepads. Players can sometimes tweak and modify the sensitivity in order to get close to 1:1 mouse precision, similar to the SplitFish peripherals, but even then there's a matter of giving up DPI when using third-party keyboards and mice on consoles.

Kaplan's comment is a little odd, though, given that peripheral makers like SplitFish and Hori already have officially licensed keyboards and mice for the PS4 and Microsoft already has an officially licensed keyboard chatpad for the Xbox One. So, they sort of already support keyboards and mice. I suppose the better question is: will Blizzard implement proper keyboard and mice support for home consoles in games like Overwatch?

Will Usher

Staff Writer at CinemaBlend.