With PAX West 2017 taking place so close to Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington headquarters, we were expecting company executives to make appearances and discuss the upcoming Xbox One X console. And indeed, Larry Hryb, director of programming for Xbox LIVE and Mike Ybarra, vice president of the Xbox and Windows game divisions, gave a rundown of the new powerhouse console and touched on some new information.
Ybarra spoke a lot about Microsoft’s work with game developers in relation to the new system. The Xbox One S and Xbox One X share hardware architecture, so the One X won’t be a whole new ballgame for developers while still offering heightened hardware and graphics capabilities. The executive noted that Microsoft worked to make a “smooth” transition for the developers from Xbox One S to Xbox One X.
As for new features, the biggest confirmation was keyboard and mouse support coming not only to the One X but to Xbox in general. When an audience member asked about keyboard and mouse support, Ybarra said it is in the works but will ultimately be up to the developers.
“Keyboard and mouse support is definitely coming,” Ybarra explained. “We have to be very smart in how we do that. We’ll leave it a lot up to developer choice. A lot of people tweet me and say ‘you can’t do this because of fairness,’ and we understand that. We run two platforms; the Xbox platform, and the Windows platform.”
He went on to say that Microsoft will “coach developers” on setting up the feature with their games, keeping in mind that players will have some strong opinions on the matter as well.
“When we bring keyboard and mouse, we’ll coach developers to say, look, you’ve got to think about your multiplayer pools,” Ybarra said. “If you have a competitive game, people probably are going to want the choice to say, I’ll play with other keyboard and mouse people, I’ll play with only controller people, or you know what, I’ll play with any of those.”
Competitive games will definitely draw the use of PC accessories when allowed, as a mouse enables a level of precision and aiming that just isn’t possible with a regular controller. Of course, many players will still stick with the comfortable use of standard Xbox controllers, but the freedom of choice will be there.
Ybarra also discussed cross-play between platforms, mentioning that Xbox has everything ready for cross-play to take place. Again, it will remain in the hands of developers to decide if their games will be compatible with cross-play, but Microsoft is looking to make multiplayer available with both Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4 consoles when possible.
Finally, Ybarra revealed that Microsoft is working on new forms of interaction for Cortana — the aritifical intelligence personal assistant — so users will have expanded options for actions it (she?) can carry out.
Xbox One X hits shelves November 7th.