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Steam's Big Picture Mode Launches in Beta Today

The big step towards making the PC experience in the living room way better.

We seem to be talking about Valve quite a bit these days, huh? In addition to sparking speculation with a job posting for an industrial engineer, launching an indie-focused marketplace embroiled in controversy over a $100 requirement for entry, Valve’s also about to launch Big Picture on Steam.

Big Picture isn’t a new idea. In fact, Valve’s been discussing it since 2011, but only now are we finally seeing what the company has been working on for all that time.

If you’ve listened to the Bombcast in the past year, you know a few of us have started moving our PCs into the living room, realizing even the poorest of PC ports of today’s console games tend to run much better than the discs spinning in our aging TV-rooted hardware. Steam’s current interface isn’t designed to cater to this, though, and Big Picture should hopefully go a long way towards making it more elegant.

Though Big Picture is compatible with a keyboard and mouse, it’s primarily engineered to make using a controller a more pleasant experience. Steam’s web browser has been appropriately tweaked, and Valve’s made some surprising input innovations to make a controller easier to type with.

Big Picture’s beta goes live on Steam later today for PC users, and a Mac version is “coming soon.”

Patrick Klepek on Google+
160 Comments
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Posted by patrickklepek

We seem to be talking about Valve quite a bit these days, huh? In addition to sparking speculation with a job posting for an industrial engineer, launching an indie-focused marketplace embroiled in controversy over a $100 requirement for entry, Valve’s also about to launch Big Picture on Steam.

Big Picture isn’t a new idea. In fact, Valve’s been discussing it since 2011, but only now are we finally seeing what the company has been working on for all that time.

If you’ve listened to the Bombcast in the past year, you know a few of us have started moving our PCs into the living room, realizing even the poorest of PC ports of today’s console games tend to run much better than the discs spinning in our aging TV-rooted hardware. Steam’s current interface isn’t designed to cater to this, though, and Big Picture should hopefully go a long way towards making it more elegant.

Though Big Picture is compatible with a keyboard and mouse, it’s primarily engineered to make using a controller a more pleasant experience. Steam’s web browser has been appropriately tweaked, and Valve’s made some surprising input innovations to make a controller easier to type with.

Big Picture’s beta goes live on Steam later today for PC users, and a Mac version is “coming soon.”

Staff
Posted by Philantrophy

I think it looks a bit like XBL, without the ads

Posted by Pie

When is today?

That controller keyboard looks really good

Posted by AuthenticM

Gotta love Valve. GOG needs to follow suit though.

Edited by MrKlorox

This video doesn't feel like Valve. Are they trying to reinvent their image?

Posted by Galiant

Not up yet. I want it!

Posted by Olqavtoras

Just as I finally bought a gaming PC, can't wait to try this out!

Posted by Jackel2072

Looks pretty cool. Don't know if I will use this more over the default interface (yes my pc is hooked up to a 47" tv) but I'm pretty excited to try.

Posted by ToxicFruit

@MrKlorox said:

This video doesn't feel like Valve. Are trying to reinvent their image?

That is what i thought. it kinda feels like a little big planet video.

But what was their image to start with ? Did they even have one? now that i think about it this is kinda the first commercial i have seen from them that is not related to their games.

Posted by mlarrabee

@MrKlorox said:

This video doesn't feel like Valve. Are trying to reinvent their image?

It felt like Google made it.

Posted by Swick

As much as thoroughly support the concept, perhaps will light more of a fire under Sony and Microsoft to get their act together with regard to new hardware and better online support.

Posted by michael_katarn

@mlarrabee: @mlarrabee said:

@MrKlorox said:

This video doesn't feel like Valve. Are trying to reinvent their image?

It felt like Google made it.

I thought it seemed like something a Scandinavian company would make.

Posted by crithon

don't mean to sound too critical, but you should add the link to the Big Picture site valve set up.

The whole set up process seems easy. Would love to try this with Trine 2, instead of Dota2.

Posted by Oi_Blimey

The keyboard layout with the controller seems really well designed. I think I might have seen this somewhere before. Is that new?

Posted by Herocide

The Daisywheel controller keyboard is the smartest version of controller typing I've ever seen.

Edited by Ozzie

"Plus a web browser for the TV that doesn't suck" ... awesome

Posted by legendlexicon

I like the software but damn Valve, get your edge back. The video was too "clean".

Posted by MjHealy

"A web browser for the TV that doesn't suck". Haha, very much to the point. Very accurate as well.

Posted by Lanceuppercut

As a TV PC gamer, I'm really excited to try this out!

Edited by wolf_blitzer85

So....does this mean that games that don't support a controller will magically work with one, or will I still need my keyboard/mouse at the ready for all those Bioware games?

Either way my computer is about 5 feet away from the tv and all I have to do is swivel my chair if I want to use that over my monitor so it wouldn't be a big deal. If they actually worked in some universal controller support voodoo magic for games where there is none, that would be fantastic.

Posted by Aleryn

Looks very promising.

Posted by Solidsnak

I wish today started this morning.

Posted by Flavbot

@michael_katarn said:

@mlarrabee: @mlarrabee said:

@MrKlorox said:

This video doesn't feel like Valve. Are trying to reinvent their image?

It felt like Google made it.

I thought it seemed like something a Scandinavian company would make.

Yes, it made me think of this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Nm7-EuctOs

Posted by Shuborno

I've been eagerly anticipating this.

I've hooked my laptop up to my TV for a while now. I'm excited that I can stop squinting.

Posted by Szlifier

@Oi_Blimey said:

The keyboard layout with the controller seems really well designed. I think I might have seen this somewhere before. Is that new?

@Herocide said:

The Daisywheel controller keyboard is the smartest version of controller typing I've ever seen.

It was popular in PSP homebrew scene. I never liked it, but that's propably because it's analog nub sucks.

Posted by UricTheOddball

@wolf_blitzer85: You will still need a keyboard/mouse for those games, as it's just the Big Picture interface that will work with a controller.

Posted by Vampir

Looks pretty great. Exciting that someone's finally figured a decent-looking way to type with a gamepad.

also apparently "first person" means controlled with a gamepad?

Posted by Joshura

This is really well timed, well before Sony and Microsoft's next consoles, and days before the Wii U's price announcement.

Valve might just find itself as a direct competitor to consoles before the next generation even officially begins.

Posted by rmanthorp

SO PUMPED!!

Moderator Online
Posted by Szlifier

@Vampir said:

Looks pretty great. Exciting that someone's finally figured a decent-looking way to type with a gamepad.

also apparently "first person" means controlled with a gamepad?

It's not a new idea. You also have to learn to use it, it's not easy. At first you won't be typing faster than on a classic on-screen keyboard.

Posted by BoOzak

@Tfruit said:

@MrKlorox said:

This video doesn't feel like Valve. Are trying to reinvent their image?

That is what i thought. it kinda feels like a little big planet video.

But what was their image to start with ? Did they even have one? now that i think about it this is kinda the first commercial i have seen from them that is not related to their games.

Well most of their big games kind of have a quirky self-awareness to them Half-Life, L4D, TF2, Portal and the trailers assosiated with them are either funny or have some awesome music to go alongside them. I dont know if that's an image but I'm not a fan of whatever tone this trailer was trying to set. Felt too much like a TV commercial.

Posted by DorkyMohr

Perfect timing, I've been meaning to ditch the desk and transition to a living room setup for my pc.

Posted by DJ_EuroGhost
Posted by Sanity

I love that they straight up say a web browser for tv that doesn't suck

Posted by paulwade1984

This is great. well done valve. A browser that doesn't suck is such a classy way to stick it to microsoft.

What i would love next is a way to stream steam to my ps3 or x-box (steam box maybe....) via wifi. That would be an extremely useful thing if the latency was viable.

Posted by MonkfishEsq

This looks good but for fuck sake, stop with the reddit pandering. That site is fucking awful.

Posted by BonOrbitz

I had no idea this was coming. As someone with a PC hooked up to the TV in the living room, I welcome the gamepad-controlled web browser and can't wait to see how it works.

Edited by MordeaniisChaos

Waiting impatiently.

@MrKlorox said:

This video doesn't feel like Valve. Are they trying to reinvent their image?

When was the last time you saw a Steam commercial?

Posted by zeekthegeek

Patrick not sure if you caught this but there's a few interviews up with Abrash RE: Valve Hardware. They've basically just said they're experimenting with VR and AR stuff and don't have plans to do hardware unless nobody else is going to.

Edited by Slaegar
@Swick said:

As much as thoroughly support the concept, perhaps will light more of a fire under Sony and Microsoft to get their act together with regard to new hardware and better online support.

Microsoft will introduce Small Picture Mode, but only if you have an Authentic Microsoft Xbox Live Gold Membership™
 
And it will somehow load even slower than the last update.
 
Edit: Also HURRAY.
Edited by gunslingerNZ

@MonkfishEsq said:

This looks good but for fuck sake, stop with the reddit pandering. That site is fucking awful.

Downvoted.

@Vampir said:

Looks pretty great. Exciting that someone's finally figured a decent-looking way to type with a gamepad.

also apparently "first person" means controlled with a gamepad?

I get the idea that "first person browser" means the screen moves and your cursor stays in the centre just like in an fps. I like the idea since the biggest problem with console browsers is the endless scrolling and re-zooming, if you get a mini preview of the overall page I can see this being an effective solution.

Posted by Swaboo

All you have to do is wait for hours until the button appears.......

Posted by moomoomashoo

Please tell me this includes the ability to start a game on my second screen by default... If so, this is perfection.

Posted by gunslingerNZ

@Swick said:

As much as thoroughly support the concept, perhaps will light more of a fire under Sony and Microsoft to get their act together with regard to new hardware and better online support.

And to price digital games more competitively as well. This can only mean good things for the next generation of consoles.

Posted by avidwriter

Google and Valve merge.... the end of the world?

Posted by John1912

@moomoomashoo said:

Please tell me this includes the ability to start a game on my second screen by default... If so, this is perfection.

If your using two screens for you pc You can extend the displays. Chose which one is the main display IE screen 2. Or swap which position they are in under screen resolution.

Posted by 2HeadedNinja

@wolf_blitzer85 said:

So....does this mean that games that don't support a controller will magically work with one, or will I still need my keyboard/mouse at the ready for all those Bioware games?

No it doesnt, if a game doesnt support a controller this wont change that. If anything this encurages devs to put in decent controller support for games that need it.

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