Valve's Big Picture Mode Puts Steam In your Living Room...Almost
By Joseph Christ on September 10th, 2012 (4 comments)
The big news today is Valve's new Big Picture Mode for steam which is currently available to try in beta form right now if you're so inclined.
Big Picture Mode is an alternative mode for the Steam interface which makes it usable on large screen HD TV's and has been streamlined to work with a controller. You can already tell where this is going. Though not the fabled Steambox -which has been repeatedly denied by Valve- it does take a major step in bringing PC gaming to the comfort of your living room, provided you're willing to lug your PC out there.
"We're confident in some things that customers want," Valve's Greg Coomer, head of the small team that designed and developed Big Picture mode, told (Kotaku) in his office. "They want a full-screen experience. They want to be in the living room. They want to use a game controller. They wanna have a social gaming experience. And we have this platform that lets us ship a significant portion of that experience."
Though a good idea, I wonder how many PC gamers are willing to bring their PC over to their TV and hook it all up, especially considering that computers are rarely used for just gaming no matter how much of a hardcore PC gamer you are. As a step in development it's quite a smart move on Valve's part. They'll be able to roll out features slowly and intelligently, and be able to gauge audience reaction without having to make the major hardware investment that a Steambox would require, but I believe that its utilitarian use will be lacking in the larger scope of things.
So do the big three console manufacturers have something to worry about? Not yet. Anyone who is willing to dive into the Big Picture experience already has a PC, and far fewer will build an entirely new system just for the living room. Even the possibility of a Steambox has it's limitations. Without utilizing a streaming game service it would find itself in the same position of being underpowered as consoles do halfway into their life cycle, except without the benefit of having games specially made for its hardware.
Valve does have a talent in innovation, however, and those who dive fully into these new features will adore them with good reason. Many others may just not not see a current need.
You can see the trailer for Big Picture Mode below.
Joseph Christ is the Reviews Editor and a Podcast Personality at 4Player. Specializing in reviews, editorials, drinking, and saying inappropriate things about gaming franchises that are beloved by millions, his satirical and sometimes edgy style offsets a more serious and penetrating substance lurking below the surface. He is also the host of the Cocktail Time Podcast. You'll follow his Twitter if you know what's good for you.
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