Aside from the console games we all know and love, official keyboard and mouse support could theoretically open the door to ports of games that live only in the PC realm. Sure, I'm impressed with how tight the controls are on PUBG Mobile, and I don't feel limited playing the MOBA Arena of Valor on the Nintendo Switch. Games that seem like they shouldn't can work on different platforms, but let's not pretend Starcraft II is playable on a pad.
The Xbox One runs a version of Windows 10, and Windows is the gaming OS. I'm no developer, but I don't believe it'd be impossible to lock in a standard graphics setting and port something like a complex real-time strategy over to Xbox One. Of course, this comes with its own problems. If you start launching games made specifically for keyboard and mouse controls, you automatically estrange people without those peripherals.
The Microsoft Store is also hardly a big gaming destination. Between Steam and developer-specific ecosystems like Origin and Battle.net, distribution is all sewn up. Would Microsoft want too big a cut from sales of these Xbox One ports?
That said, the distance between consoles and computers has been shrinking at a rate, particularly within this generation of living-room hardware. Many games these days support crossplay, allowing you to match with friends and randoms despite your platform differences. You can play Fortnite on a PC with a pad, or stream the game from your PS4 or Xbox One to your PC. With the Xbox Play Anywhere program, you buy a game once and can play it on your PC or Xbox, with saves and achievements persisting across platforms. Even mid-generation hardware upgrades like the PS4 Pro and Xbox One X feel geared towards closing the graphical gap between consoles and PCs. And with PSVR, you don't need a proper gaming rig to experience something better than 360-degree videos on your phone.
Keyboard and mouse support on its own seems minor, but it's another small nudge towards making the Xbox One a more viable and appealing PC alternative. In the end, though, it's key that developers actually make use of the new control option. I reached out to a bunch of the big studios to get their thoughts, but they're keeping cards close to chests. Of those that responded, EA said: "As developers, we're excited about crossplay, mouse and keyboard support. We're always researching new ways we can make our games better in the future."
343 Industries, developer of the most recent Halo games, told me: "We're always exploring the best player experiences for Halo and are excited for mouse and keyboard support on Xbox; we don't have any further comments to share." I also asked Microsoft about what it means for the company and Xbox gamers, but the response was basically along the lines of 'it's up to developers now,' shrug. The wait-and-see reaction was expected, but it does feel like we're approaching a natural end-game for Xbox. Microsoft has something Sony doesn't: Windows. And leveraging that could help Microsoft fare better in the console war's next reboot, having lost this round convincingly to Sony.
Being all things to all people isn't necessarily a winning formula, mind. Valve has famously failed to put gaming PCs in the living room with the now legendary but easily forgotten initiative that was Steam Machines. These mini-PCs were built by third parties based on Valve's reference design and ran the Linux-based SteamOS. There was no single box to get behind, and Steam Machines were underpowered compared with Windows counterparts. What's more, the controller that sat in limbo for years didn't end up translating PC controls to pads quite as promised. Combine all this with a lack of developer support, and you get a good idea of why they never took off.
Microsoft is in a slightly different position, of course. It has Windows and the Xbox brand. Perhaps next console generation, they'll encroach even further on the dominion of PCs. And eventually, we won't think about the distinctions at all.