Valve released Big Picture mode for Steam today, and with it started a major sale on Steam’s most “controller-friendly” titles.
Full controller support was enough to earn up to 75% off for array of games from Audiosurf to Alan Wake.
Big Picture is essentially Valve’s attempt to make the PC into a living-room console, making its entire library of games available through a new, TV- and controller-friendly user interface.
In an odd move, Valve’s first suggestion for getting Big Picture up and running is to carry your PC into the living room and plug it into the television. Obviously, that will hardly be a solution for most people, as getting a desktop PC out of a computer desk is often like trying to wrestle a box of mice from a hydra.
The official site makes deliberately nonspecific references to “some really interesting solutions” that allow computers to wirelessly use an HDTV as a second monitor. It would have been nice if they’d included such an option in the Big Picture bundle.
The user interface for Big Picture is reminiscent of XBox Live, with rows of scrolling thumbnails standing in for menu items. It is also reminiscent of the Linux-based media hub XBox Media Center, though Big Picture only has three options: Store, Library, and Community. Tabs for integrated movie and music browsing would be logical expansions, and would set up Steam as a more general media hub.
That would certainly please some in the community, who believe that Big Picture is little more than a beta test for the oft-rumoured Steam Box. Once the PC, with its Newell-hexed Windows operating system, has borne the brunt of the bug-testing, it will become the skeleton of an OS for Valve’s first piece of hardware.
Whether anything like a Steam Box is actually in the works, a partnership with a hardware manufacturer like Boxee would certainly make sense, as would a built-in solution for streaming a monitor feed over a home network.
To try out Big Picture, simply install the latest version of Steam. The Big Picture interface is available on the PC as well, so it’s easy enough to try for yourself.