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The Xbox One is becoming a gaming PC

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Microsoft just announced a new console, and it's a PC

Nobody was expecting a new console to be shown off this year at E3, but in a series of surprise announcements, that's exactly what Microsoft just did. The Xbox One is about to look a lot like a gaming PC, and that's really exciting.

Since the Xbox One was announced, we've seen a move towards bringing the couch experience of consoles and the rich flexibility of gaming PCs together in a single package. Valve is tackling the problem by starting with the PC and trying to make it more friendly for the living room, but its Steam Machines haven't quite cracked the formula yet. Microsoft is coming from the opposite direction, starting with a console and making it more like a PC, and it's doing a better job.

Microsoft announced three big features for the Xbox One

Today, Microsoft announced three big features coming to the Xbox One: backwards compatibility with Xbox 360 gamesaccess to games that are still in development, and free PC modifications for Fallout 4. These features — extensive compatibility with old games, early access to games still in development, and free game modifications — are all things PC gamers currently enjoy. Modifications are especially important, since access to free game changing mods is one of the most valuable exclusive features offered by PC gaming.

The new features won't give the Xbox One parity with gaming PCs, and we're not sure if free mods in Fallout 4 means that Microsoft will offer mod support to other games, but taken together they're signs that the arbitrary barrier between consoles and PCs is quickly disappearing.

E3: Fallout 4 Details