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