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Steam Big Picture released

Steam Big Picture released

It looks like Steam’s Big Picture mode has left the comfy confines of beta status to roam free on a television near you.

Steam Big Picture Mode announcement

Big Picture mode is designed to make navigating Steam more user friendly on televisions, and includes a number of features to make this possible. For starters, the entire interface can be driven by either the traditional mouse/keyboard combination or a game controller. The integrated browser, which claims to be the world’s  first “First Person Browser”, allows browser tabs, bookmarks, and web pages to all be easily navigated using either a keyboard or a game controller. To go along with the new browser, Daisywheel is a rather interesting input method that uses a combination of a controller’s analog sticks and buttons to select and ‘press’ groups of letters.

Steam has also created a list of games containing full controller support and a larger list with partial controller support (keyboard and/or mouse might be required at some point) making it easier to locate, purchase, and install games that work well in a non-traditional PC gaming environment.

The list of system requirements to run Big Picture Mode are pretty light (games will likely require better hardware):

  • Windows Vista, OS X 10.7 or newer
  • 3GHz Pentium 4 or dual core CPU
  • 256MB DirectX 9 GPU
  • 1GB disk space
  • Internet connection
  • Controller or keyboard/mouse
Of course, what would a major Steam announcement be without an accompanying Steam sale? The Big Picture Celebration Sale lasts through December 10 at 10:00am PST, and unsurprisingly it features a healthy dose of controller-friendly games.

Rumors have been flying for some time now that Valve intends to release a product called the “Steam Box” sometime in the future. While details on an operating system vary with each day’s rumor mill rumblings (anything from Windows to a custom Linux build), the constants tend to indicate a full PC capable of playing games at television resolutions. Whether or not these rumors end up leading to a real product remains to be seen. Until then, Big Picture Mode appears to go a long way towards bringing PC gaming to the mainstream living room.


  1. Theironhand
    Theironhand I'd have to say I'm really impressed by it. It runs so smooth without any problems and the web browser is just amazing. I have not tried it out on a TV yet, but I'll be sure to post something if I do.
  2. midga
    midga I've had my computer on my tv for well over a year now. I've actually stopped using my consoles, even though I much prefer controller-based input, because of the utility and versatility of a computer combined with the fairly large number of games that will work with a controller on PC. So, yeah, I'm pretty much target market for this I think (though it's quite possible I'm wrong).

    That said, I don't like it much. It's probably because I like the fast browsing you can do with a computer (it takes a while to scroll through stuff in Big Picture), and the fact that the chat isn't an overlay window or anything; it's a separate part. That is, I can't be chatting and using the browser without switching back and forth (if they've changed this, I apologize. I haven't tried chatting in it since beta). I'd also like it much better if it ran windowed (and if it can, well then I couldn't figure it out putting basically no effort into looking). It also seems to be a bit resource hungry, but that might have been Skype.

    What I do like about it, though, is the game launcher. It 1) allows you to fairly easily download/install more than one game at a time (always been a bit of a sour point with Steam) and 2) looks pretty damn good. The text input is also a rather decent way to go about it with a controller. Props to whoever designed that.
  3. mertesn
    mertesn At first, your windowed argument didn't make sense to me. The interface is designed to run on a TV where a windowed mode just doesn't make sense. Then it occurred to me that this interface could just as easily be used as a decluttered PC interface (which could be quite useful).

    Maybe Valve will allow a windowed Big Picture interface in the future.
  4. midga
    midga @mertesn Right. I'm on a tv, and if all I was doing was gaming, then it'd be perfect full-screen. I'd like to be able to see my Skype without switching out, though.

    I'm also going to have to test this out later, but I think you still have to use a keyboard and mouse when you invite people to a game through the Steam overlay. I can't remember if I tried that through Big Picture last night, or if I only did it after switching back to normal Steam. It bothers the crap out of me when I'm playing BL2, though.
  5. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster I'm gonna need a long HDMI cable.....
  6. CB
    I'm gonna need a long HDMI cable.....
    HDMI cables have gone way down in price over the last few years.

  7. Cliff_Forster
    Cliff_Forster I want this as a cloud based service with a little box for delivery and a couple dedicated controllers like OnLive. I'm not going to make the investment necessary for a second PC, and I'm definitely not putting my PC right next to my home theater (my wife would finally kill me)..... I love this idea, I want access to certain games from the couch, but the logistics of it for today, just too clunky for my set up. I'm sure it will get there.
  8. trooster89
    trooster89 Big picture plus a port to linux? vavle's gotta be working on a console.
  9. Thrax
    Thrax "Big picture" <-- two words
    "Linux" <-- one word

    2+1 = 3


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