For FPS Gamers, An Old Control Scheme Is Fading

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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For FPS Gamers, An Old Control Scheme Is Fading

This particular development certainly had my attention. It wasn't hard, as I was actually personally involved in it, after a fashion. But as it turns out, new reports are suggesting that an old standard in controls is on its way out when it comes to one particular breed of game.

Basically, Bungie co-founder Jason Jones--as in the guys who came up with smash hit "Halo"--came out and said that for first person shooters, the keyboard / mouse combination was on its way out. What's more, it was essentially "Halo"'s own fault that no one wanted to rock the keyboard / mouse combo any more.

What did the combination approach in, essentially, was Halo's game mechanics. Players were limited to two weapons. The game had an automatic quicksave function instead of depending on the user to initiate his or her own saves. Health bars regenerated automatically. Basically, many of the keyboard's standard functions were taken out, replaced with the kind of control scheme that would go over on a gamepad. For many gamers--especially FPS gamers--this was a welcome change of pace.

I personally have actually tried it both ways. I've been enamored with pretty much all of Bethesda's product line that's got "Fallout" or "Elder Scrolls" in the title, which I've played on the Xbox 360. I also finally got a chance to get caught up with the STALKER franchise, which is in a similar vein. In all honesty, I preferred the gamepad. Maybe I was just more used to it. Maybe I just don't much care for gaming with controls spread out over multiple devices. But I preferred my gamepad control, and apparently, I was not alone.

How did Jones reach this conclusion? Well, it wasn't exactly a major study that got this particular fact brought to light, but rather a comparison in the sheer sizes of the audience. While reliable sales data in video gaming isn't easy to come by--it's worse when the issue of digital distribution gets thrown in--but commonly, the audience for console FPS games is vastly more substantial than the equivalent in PC gaming. There are still those who play first person shooters on PC, of course, but the numbers are much lower than their console gaming equivalents. The original "Call of Duty: Black Ops", for example, sold fully eight million copies on consoles--PS3 and Xbox 360--but only sold 400,000 PC copies, according to reports.

Considering the availability of gamepads for PCs, it's not surprising to see that the all-in-one control scheme is gaining in popularity, at least as far as FPS games go. Sure, the MMO isn't likely to go to gamepad, and the RPG will still have plenty of room. But "Halo" seems to have paved the way for a whole class of PC games that doesn't involve the keyboard and mouse.

It's enough to make one wonder if that will mean fewer keyboards and mouse controllers coming out from places like Razer, who have made something of a dynasty on such controls. But while the keyboard / mouse combination may not be dead yet, it may rather be on the way out, at least in the FPS circles.
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