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This is how Xbox games get touch controls for xCloud

Microsoft is preparing to launch its xCloud game streaming service next month as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and we are now starting to get some more details on how touch controls will work with the service. Microsoft initially had detailed touch controls last year, but the company is now working with Xbox Game Studios developers such as The Coalition and Ninja Theory to bring these controls to Xbox games.

During a Microsoft Game Stack stream today, Jarret Bradley, senior gameplay producer at The Coalition, showed how touch controls work with Gears 5. The Coalition has created custom layouts for everything you can do in the game, including aim, shoot, reload buttons, and vehicle controls.

The team even built layers where you can press buttons to get different views when you switch weapons, so the D-Pad isn’t always visible on the screen. The touch screen operation even disappears automatically when a cinematic film appears on the screen. The Coalition also added gyro aim buttons so you can use your phone or tablet to aim a gun.

“When we first started talking about this, we got a bit complicated because we weren’t sure what to do,” Bradley explained during the lecture. “When we started digging into it, we realized it was best for us to treat this as another input device, as we already support keyboard and mouse, controller, and we have custom controls and remapping.”

Touchscreen control on xCloud.

The coalition has gone back Gears 5 and it’s painstakingly optimized for touch controls, but Microsoft hopes developers will consider designing games with these controls in mind at the outset of development. This makes it easier for developers to consider touch controls with xCloud, and for xCloud players to use them when a Bluetooth Xbox controller is not available.

Microsoft now allows existing xCloud testers to access touch controls Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice today, and other games should start with this touch control, as xCloud will be available in September as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.