After years of unfulfilled promises and a few weeks of build-up, the Xbox One family finally supports keyboards and mice. Alright, so it's still a feature reserved for members of the beta-esque Xbox Insider Program and few games actually work with the different control scheme, but it's here nevertheless. Keyboards, mice and consoles aren't an abnormal pairing. I remember playing Unreal Tournament on the Dreamcast with keys and clicks, and the PS4 has supported the alternative peripherals for years, even if developers have largely ignored them. It's a slightly bigger deal on Xbox One, though. After all, it technically runs Windows 10, the OS of choice for PC gamers, albeit with the clunky Xbox UI on top. The line between console and computer, then, becomes ever blurrier.
In the immediate future, the impact of keyboard and mouse support on Xbox One is negligible. Games that work with the control option on day one or within the next few weeks include Bomber Crew, Children of Morta, Deep Rock Galactic, Minion Master, Moonlighter, Strange Brigade, Vigor, War Thunder, Warface, Warframe, Wargroove, Warhammer: Vermintide 2 and X-Morph Defense. I know little to nothing about any of these titles. DayZ on the other hand, I am familiar with, but that's been a dead game for a while now.
Adapters that trick the Xbox One into accepting keyboard and mouse inputs have existed since the console launched, but official support is something different. There's going to be a special Designed for Xbox program for approved peripherals that include an Xbox home button, for instance -- the first product of which is likely to come from well-known gamer brand Razer early next year. More importantly, developers will have to actually consider the control scheme when creating or updating games, rather than simply translating inputs into pad-speak as adapters do.
Five years since the Xbox One launch seems like a long wait for such a feature to be implemented, but it's a touchy subject. Particularly in the first-person shooter world, a keyboard and mouse is considered essential for high-level play. Not only do you have more buttons available for switching between weapons or using abilities but a mouse offers the speed and precision a thumbstick can't match. And yes, I'm aware that some Fortnite pros can build, edit and aim with a pad just as well as their keyboard warrior friends and foes. Aside from these exceptions, though, it's a fact: A keyboard and mouse gives you a competitive advantage over pad players.
If you're Microsoft then, you have to consider alienating players that don't want to spend on additional peripherals. Then there's the further risk of this contingent getting forever stomped every time they jump into an online lobby. This could affect not only morale but the bottom line. Some people could just stop playing games, stop buying games and cancel their Xbox Live subscriptions. There's further complications in that some games are balanced differently across consoles. In popular team-based shooter Overwatch, for example, the turrets some characters can place do less damage on the console versions of the game, making up for the fact they are harder to take out with less accurate aiming on a thumbstick.
Most games are identical across platforms, though, like Fortnite, which is the same game on mobiles, through consoles and all the way up to PCs. It's also by far the highest-profile Xbox One title to support keyboard and mouse control from the offset. Developer Epic Games is preemptively avoiding any complaints of unfair advantages before they occur. Like on PS4, Xbox One players using keys and clicks will be matchmade with each other, leaving pad players to duke it out in their own, controller-specific lobbies. Unfortunately, it won't weed out the punks that use adapters that mimic controller inputs, but these few bad apples have always existed and will continue to.