Steam Big Picture mode beta launches today, details & screens emerge

By Dave Cook, Monday, 10 September 2012 14:07 GMT

Valve’s rumoured Big Picture mode beta will launch today. It’s a service that brings Steam to your TV, and it has been detailed in a new report by Kotaku ahead of launch.

Kotaku has tried Valve’s new mode with a controller, and found it to be, “sleek, intuitive, and groundbreaking in several ways.”

The report suggests that Big Picture, “sort of looks like the dashboard on an Xbox 360, minus the advertisements and other clutter that can make that system so irritating to navigate.”

Despite Steam being a PC-based entity first, Big Picture’s interface has been designed to run with controllers in mind, although keyboard and mouse support is included. This particular design choice is Valve’s warning shot to the console market.

With a controller focus and an almost console interface, Big Picture mode could be considered the first step towards a Steam console, the report suggests.

Games can be searched at speed by genre and other filters using a controller, while typing on the pad also uses a neat pinwheel UI with button icons similar to Xbox 360.

The service will also come loaded with Facebook, Google, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube apps. Hit the links to see the features in action.

Head of Valve’s Big Picture mode team Greg Coomer explained to Kotaku why the company is making the right move in bringing Steam to the living room, “We’re confident in some things that customers want. They want a full-screen experience. They want to be in the living room.”

“They want to use a game controller,” Coomer added, “They wanna have a social gaming experience. And we have this platform that lets us ship a significant portion of that experience.”

But does this mean Valve is actively thinking about a Steam console. Kotaku posed the question to Coomer, who replied, “What we really want is to ship [Big Picture mode] and then learn. So we want to find out what people value about that.”

“How they make use of it. When they make use of it. Whether it’s even a good idea for the broadest set of customers or not,” Coomer explained, “And then decide what to do next.”

“So it could be that the thing that really makes sense is to build the box that you’re describing. But we really don’t have a road map. And we think we’re going to learn a tremendous amount through this first release,” Coomer concluded.

That’s definitely not a no then, but what about you? Would you play your Steam back catalogue on your TV? Would you even buy a Steam console if the day finally came? Let us know below.

Thanks Kotaku.

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