There is a catch...

By Jonathan Vanian
May 12, 2017

The line between video game consoles and personal computer is blurring yet again.

Microsoft revealed this week that people would soon be able to connect their Xbox One video game consoles with computer keyboards so they can play games and chat with others while doing so.

Video game consoles like the Xbox One have long required people to use handheld gamepads. By making the Xbox One compatible with keyboards, Microsoft is trying to make it easier for developers to make video games that operate the same for both gaming consoles and PCs.

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There is a catch, however.

Keyboard compatibility will only be available for video games developed using Microsoft’s Universal Windows Platform, essentially software for creating apps and games that run on Windows-powered devices like PCs and Xbox. Microsoft has been trying to convince developers to build games using its tool kit.

Microsoft senior product manager Andrew Parsons said this week during the company’s annual Build conference for developers that he’s “spoken to two different game developers in the last week” who are interested in making games for the Xbox One that use keyboards.

“They’ve got games that they’ve published on Windows and they want to publish on the console, but their game kind of needs chat or it kind of needs the ability to type in a bunch of text,” Parsons said.

Using a type of gamepad that includes a mini keyboard would “diminish the experience for their games,” he said. Therefore, adding the ability to use a full keyboard is important.

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Still, Parsons conceded that Microsoft’s tool kit only allows coders to use “roughly a quarter” of the Xbox One’s computing resources, which means that their games could be less visually compelling than those created by big gaming studios.

“We are working hard to change that and to make it even better, but right now that’s where we’re at,” Parsons said.

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