I Want an Xbox 360 on my Desk

No, not at work. At home.

This is how I played games before I got into console gaming. On computers. The Vic-20, Commodore 64, Amiga, DOS-era PCs, and the PCs are all systems I used for gaming. They all sat on my desk, hooked up to a monitor. They all had a keyboard, and most of them had a mouse (even the Commodore 64).

Gaming consoles assume you’re going to play with a controller. Controllers have gone from a single 8 direction joystick and 1 button to the multitude of inputs that the Xbox 360 and PS3 controllers have (including two proportional joysticks, 2 triggers, 8 buttons, etc). But for some classes of games, this just isn’t the right input metaphor.

Real time strategy games, for example, benefit hugely from being able to get around the screen quickly. Aiming in first person shooters and RPGs is better with a keyboard and mouse. And in-game communication with a keyboard is preferable to me most of the time to using a headset to chat.

But PC gaming is slowly dying.

People still want to play these kinds of games, so they’re coming out for the consoles, but the experience just isn’t as good as it is with a keyboard and mouse combo.

So here’s what I want: Keyboard and mouse support in Xbox 360 games.

There are two obstacles to this happening:

The big one is, I think, that Microsoft doesn’t want it to. It doesn’t fit their vision of the 360 as the couch experience – I’m sure they think of the question from the perspective of making a good keyboard/mouse controller that you can use on the couch. But that’s not what I want. Plus they still make a few bucks selling Windows.

And the other one is the extra UI design and testing that would go into supporting two input methods.

But in my opinion, the payoff for that extra work would be worth it. For example, even though I love RTS games, I didn’t buy Command and Conquer on the 360 because I don’t like the control scheme. That’s lost dollars for EA.

The PS3 technically supports keyboard/mouse play, but I don’t think most games do. For example, their headline shooter series, Resistence: Fall of Man, does not.

I think the way to change this is to let the publishers know why we’re not buying their games. If EA sees lost sales, they’ll pressure Microsoft to allow keyboard/mouse. And with Peter Moore at EA now, maybe he’ll still have some pull with MS.

(Okay, a console one on my desk at work would be cool, too).