Over the past year, Microsoft has been steadily adding custom Xbox touch controls to more than 100 games that can be streamed to Android and iOS phones using its Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) service. While these controls may seem gimmicky to some, Microsoft is now revealing that 20 percent of players use these touch controls exclusively.
“[Twenty] percent of our Xbox Cloud Gaming users use touch as their exclusive method of playing games,” explains Monty Hernandez, a senior program manager at Xbox. “As such, it’s important to us that the touch-enabled games we launch are relevant and, most importantly, play well with touch controls.”
It’s a surprising stat and there are even individual games where 30 percent of players use touch controls exclusively:
New Super Lucky’s Tale
Yakuza: Like a Dragon
Dragon’s Quest XI
Football Manager 2022 Xbox Edition
Given the amount of usage, it’s not surprising that game developers have been keen to add these custom touch controls over the past year. Microsoft has made it relatively easy to do so, allowing game developers to build on top of a sample layout from GitHub that can be customized to each game.
“We’ve seen, on average, a 2x increase in usage for titles available via Xbox Cloud Gaming, across genres, that implement touch controls,” says Hernandez. A lot of Xbox Cloud Gaming titles now have some impressive touch controls, with custom styling and iconography that helps players who are purely using a touchscreen.
Xbox touch controls on a Surface Duo. Photo by Tom Warren / The Verge
Xbox touch controls started off with Minecraft Dungeons support, before expanding to 10 more games a month after the initial launch of xCloud. Microsoft has also been using Xbox touch controls for its dual-screen Surface Duo handset, turning its Android-powered device into more of a Nintendo 3DS with Xbox games.
With more than 100 games now supporting these custom touch controls, and players apparently keen to use them, it’s clear we’re going to see many more games implement Xbox touch controls in the months ahead.