On Thursday, gaming site VG24/7 reported that Microsoft Poland had published a press release announcing keyboard and mouse hardware for the Xbox One. The information was deleted soon after gaming reporters noticed it, but one eagle-eyed consumer captured it in a screenshot and now the gaming community is electrified.
If Microsoft does indeed release a keyboard and mouse for the Xbox, the company would be doing more than just creating two new peripherals for the system. It would also blur the line between console gaming (Xbox, Playstation) and PC gaming (Steam), shaking up the long-maintained divide between the two communities of gamers.
For casual video game fans, that might not mean much. But console and PC gamers are anything but casual. They can be highly emotional and act like militant tribes when it comes to how they play. They are also part of a broader gaming world that is becoming increasingly professional. Competitive gaming and esports pulled in more revenue in 2016 than the film or music industries. The introduction of a keyboard and mouse for the Xbox could spark a ripple effect that impacts how gamers play—and how they interact with one another.
Microsoft seemed to be aware of the implications of its new devices—at least based on the translation of the Polish press release. When VG24/7 ran it through Google Translate, they got this text: “Some players prefer to conquer the virtual world with a pad in hand. Others, above all, value the precision of the mouse movements. Others, however, can not imagine playing on anything other than a keyboard. Now, owners of Xbox One consoles (including Xbox One S models and the latest Xbox One X) can choose these accessories and decide for themselves what they will use. ‘PC Master Race?’ Thanks to the keyboard support, we can already successfully talk about ‘Xbox Master Race.'”
That “master race” joke refers to the “PC master race,” a tongue-in-cheek phrase that PC gamers adopted from a game review video in 2008.
In September, Engadget speculated that keyboard and mouse capabilities would have a direct and immediate effect on multiplayer games, specifically first-person shooters, where PC controls give a gamer an advantage.
“Microsoft would prefer,” Engadget explained, “that developers offer the choice of playing only against rivals with similar controllers, so players who can’t or don’t want to buy extra peripherals won’t be at an automatic disadvantage.”
There’s no official release date for the Xbox One’s keyboard and mouse. It certainly won’t be out for Christmas 2017, but they could be the hot gaming items next year.