What you need to know
- Xbox Cloud Gaming is available on phones, the web, and PCs as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
- You can stream dozens upon dozens of games via the web, ideal for low-power non-gaming PCs. But you're restricted to gamepad and touch controls.
- Now, it seems like Microsoft is getting ready to test mouse and keyboard inputs with Xbox Cloud Gaming too.
Mouse and keyboard support has long been teased for Xbox Cloud Gaming, and we've now seen the first glimpses that it may be in testing.
If you're part of the Windows Gaming Insider package via the Xbox Insider app on Windows 10 or 11, you have access to a more advanced update ring for the Xbox app and the Xbox Game Bar. A recent update for the Xbox app has changed up the Xbox Cloud Gaming interface a little bit, including iconography for mouse and keyboard support, as well as a filter for the search tool, to allow you to find games that support mouse and keyboard.
As of writing, Xbox Cloud Gaming (as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate) only supports controllers and touch controls. On PCs and laptops, generally speaking, you'll be forced to use an Xbox gamepad if you want to play titles via the internet. Xbox Cloud Gaming has perhaps the highest-quality library of all the major PC-based streaming services, with games from Microsoft itself, Bethesda, and EA featured in force across the platform. However, for those who don't have a gamepad or simply prefer to play with a mouse and keyboard, typically services like NVIDIA GeForce Now have long been the platform of choice for Windows-based cloud gaming. With this latest change, that could begin to flow in the other direction.
As you can see from the above images, the Xbox app for Windows 10 and 11, now includes a mouse icon next to the controller icon, as it checks for required peripherals for cloud gaming. As of writing, the system is all a little buggy in this build, with thumbnails refusing to load, and cloud games refusing to boot with this version of the app. However, it does offer a glimpse at what the future potentially holds.
If you scroll down a little too, there's also a new search area which lets you filter cloud games by input. One of those filters is, indeed, mouse and keyboard, sitting along touch controls for Windows-based tablets, as well as tried-and-tested controller support. On phones, people typically use a variety of Xbox clips and mobile controllers for playing cloud games, but it's always been a intriguing proposition to run cloud games on PCs with peripherals that are connected up as standard.
Since Xbox Cloud Gaming uses Xbox console hardware for delivering its titles, it stands to reason that only games that support mouse and keyboard on Xbox consoles will receive the same level of support on Xbox Cloud Gaming. Indeed, activating the filter only lists Psychonauts 2 and Sea of Thieves, two games which do in fact support mouse and keyboard on console. I would assume these are two games currently being tested with this new feature.
There's no telling as and when this will be ready for public consumption. It will be interesting to see how well the video algorithm can handle the more precise movements of a mouse, especially since mouse and keyboard support on Xbox itself hasn't always been the best.
We've reached out to Microsoft for comment, and we'll update this with any official information as and when it comes in.
You can grab Xbox Cloud Gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $15 per month, or $1 for a new user trial period.
Thanks to K3v8az for the tip!
Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!
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