February 27th, 2015

Why is the Mouse PC Only?

I haven’t had too much time to game recently because of work, but I did buy Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus, and I’ve enjoyed it so far. Sure, it doesn’t live up to Final Fantasy VII. Yes, its gameplay isn’t original in the least bit, but if you’re like me and can’t wait for Final Fantasy XII, it’ll definitely help you pass the time. My favorite part about it is that you can actually use any USB keyboard and mouse to play with the preferred FPS controls. If you are running out to the store just because of that, let me first caution you that it doesn’t work all that well. I think they are just mapping the mouse input into joystick commands, so it definitely feels a bit wonky. I was very eager to try my preferred first person peripherals out (I got some amusement that I was using a Microsoft keyboard and mouse with my PS2), and once I adjusted the sensitivity to where I wanted it, I had to pick up the mouse  about 10 times to complete a 180 degree turn. So, I had to jack the sensitivity way up in order to turn around at any reasonable speed, but then it was too sensitive for me to aim. Luckily, there is a forgiving auto-aim that made the game playable with the poor mouse controls. Sure, it’s definitely not ideal, but I still prefer that to playing with a gamepad. (Although, when I had to do the third person melee combat, I picked up my DualShock 2). All of this has really made me wonder, why do console game developers shun the mouse?

Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 both have USB ports. You can already play at least one PS2 game with a keyboard and mouse, so I’m sure it will be possible for Playstation 3 also. Xbox 360′s dash already supports USB keyboards for entering in Xbox Live information, so I’m sure it would be easy for Microsoft to expose mouse and keyboard drivers to developers. Heck, you could even play first person shooters for Dreamcast (Quake III Arena and Unreal Tournament) with a keyboard and mouse. Then why can’t I play any next gen first person shooters the way that I want to? I would enjoy Perfect Dark Zero much more if I could use a keyboard and mouse to control it. I can understand that Microsoft didn’t want to do it with the original Xbox since they were trying to fight the idea that the console was just a Windows PC in the living room. I think they managed to shake that idea, so what is the hesitation with Xbox 360? Sony is trying to convince the world that the Playstation 3 is more than just a console – it’s a PC. This may be to justify the price tag. $600 may seem like a lot for a video game console, but is quite cheap for a PC with as much processing power as the PS3 packs. But if it’s a PC, then why can’t I play games with the keyboard and mouse? Why is the PC the only system that can have the best input devices for real time strategy and first person shooters?

Some might argue that the Wii-mote will help bridge that gap. Maybe it will. I haven’t played a RTS with the Wii-mote, but I have played a first person shooter (Red Steel), and I much prefer a mouse to the Wii-mote for a first person shooter. Even if the Wii-mote is heaven for strategy and first person games, I imagine making a similar peripheral for the PS3 and the Xbox 360 would be a bad idea because of both the cost, patent infringement and segmenting the market (not everyone would buy one), but who doesn’t have a keyboard and a mouse? Maybe they aren’t USB, but I can’t imagine the USB adapter would be expensive.

I’m not purposing Resistance: The Fall of Man and Halo 3 should be mouse only. I’m just suggesting that they support the keyboard and mouse also. There is a large population of gamers  who primarily play PC first person shooters who really don’t want to play an FPS with a gamepad (myself included). Many of these gamers own a console. Why not make your console first person shooter accessible to them also? It wouldn’t be all that much work, and it can only help sales. With this generation of consoles, PCs have lost their other FPS advantage: higher resolutions. Maybe if Resistance: The Fall of Man allowed the usage of a mouse, some PC gamers would buy a PS3 also.

Now, I imagine there are some console first person shooter fans screaming, “That’s not fair!” But, let’s stop and think about that. I’m sure plenty of people playing with a keyboard and a mouse will be a lot more accurate at aiming. There is plenty that the game developers can do to balance it out by doing some auto aiming for gamepad users, but even if they don’t, why is that unfair? I could play Halo 2 online with Microsoft’s new force feedback steering wheel. If I tried to complain that it was unfair that everyone else wasn’t using a steering wheel too, I’d get laughed off Xbox Live. If you think that’s ridiculous, I’d argue it’s the same way for keyboard and mouse vs. gamepads. If you want, you can play PC FPSes with a PC gamepad (you can even use your wired Xbox 360 gamepad, and when this adapter comes out, you can use your wireless), but you’re not going to get very far. For all the console gamers that don’t want to bother learning how to aim well with a more accurate control scheme, I’m sure they could create gamepad only servers on Xbox Live, so that you could continue playing with your controller of choice. It would be easy for them to enforce that on the game side, so you wouldn’t get a griefer on your server getting headshots by using the mouse.

Until the mouse gets more support from console game developers, all hope is not lost. Lik Sang has created mouse and keyboard to PS2 and Xbox controller adapters. I haven’t used them myself, but I’ve heard that the performance ranges from quite well to not so great depending on the game. But, I imagine it couldn’t really be worse than Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus‘s keyboard and mouse support, so it can’t be too bad. Once they come out with a version for next gen systems, I may have to pick one up.


4 Responses to 'Why is the Mouse PC Only?'

  1. 1Nelson Lavers
    September 28th, 2006 at 6:08 pm

    your right…

    I would love to frag all the little “gamepad” people with my lazer mouse and keyboard… they would have no chance against the old school gang… the mouse is written for FPS ..and it is way faster than pressing on any controller.

    …you know why there is no support for the mouse and board …because they don’t want to take away from the sales of their game pads …period. …and get anyone mad at old school pro’s on-line.

    Gates didn’t want this as well with the 360… because… ..why would he take away from PC sales with his bread and butter OS software. …the best of both worlds I guess

    The reality of it is that the industry is a monopoly in general and they will not step on there own toes to make a few happy on a larger scale. …dollars and cents pal… cents… not common scene here , ..I hear you though.



  2. 2Matt
    September 28th, 2006 at 6:49 pm

    Nelson, I appreciate your feedback! I would argue that it wouldn’t take away from their gamepad sales. People would still buy gamepads for other games that would use them in a much better capacity. As I suggested, keyboard and mouse users could be separated from gamepad users on Xbox Live.

    I would also argue that making mice work in the 360 versions wouldn’t take away from PC sales. Many Microsoft first party games are coming to Windows and Xbox. Halo 2 is coming to PC. The original Halo was already released. Shadowrun (another first person shooter) is PC and Xbox 360. People who want to play it on a PC can if they want to. People who don’t want to upgrade their machines wouldn’t have to in order to play with a certain control scheme. Microsoft is much better off selling games for Xbox 360 because they get a cut out of every game sold regardless of the publisher. If someone buys Battlefield 2142 for the PC, Microsoft makes no money. If someone buys it for Xbox 360, Microsoft gets a cut.

    Sony is in the same boat. They make no money if someone buys the PC version. They should allow the use of mice to try and sell more Playstation 3 games instead of PC games.

    Let’s also use the recently announced Halo Wars as an example. That’s an RTS that’s Xbox 360 exclusive. Microsoft would be foolish to support only the gamepad. If they supported a mouse and keyboard, then they could possibly sell Xbox 360s to hardcore RTS players. If they don’t, then no RTS fan is going to buy it. It may get a few newbies interested, but on the whole, it’ll probably alienate RTS fans.

  3. 3Nelson Lavers
    September 29th, 2006 at 4:22 pm

    So… The Sony people will try to encourage support for the mouse and keyboard to it developers in order to out sell PC games? sounds good! right?? I am really hoping so, because I don’t want to keep upgrading my PC and then substitute detail settings when it gets a little older. It feels like ever 2 years I am in need of a boost of some sort. I need to have my FPS games play properly or I’m not in at all.

    I know I have read about the support with mice and keys on-line for the PS3, but when I looked at the new magazines in the store yesterday (3 of them..PS3 only) I did not find one hint that there was anything to look forward to as a mouse/keyboard player… but I am hoping I tell you!

    I wouldn’t even mind if I had to buy a Sony mouse and keyboard to play like that… honestly, I would buy it in a heart beat as long as it was workable and stable like a normal configuration.

    This is a great topic Matt… thanks a lot!

  4. 4Richard
    November 14th, 2006 at 12:31 am

    I had no idea this was as big a deal as it seems to be, but I am very happy it is. I have not purchased a console for exactly this reason only. I have signed a petition for microsoft to add mouse and keyboard support and we need to get as many as possible to do the same. here is the link

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