Move over, Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo. Valve Software today revealed a new television-friendly version of its massive Steam digital video game distribution service.
Aptly named Big Picture, the new view transforms Steam into a more polished experience for the big screen. The optional redesigned interface represents a departure from the traditional Valve design used in the Steam application for Windows and Mac, instead falling in line with the easy-to-navigate layouts commonly seen in streaming media devices.
With Big Picture, gamers can easily purchase and play more than 2,000 games from the Steam store, or use the built-in Web browser to surf the tubes. The browser features reticle-based navigation (meaning players move a scope around to zoom or scroll); cloud-saved favorites; and tabbed browsing. For those wanting to ditch keys completely, Big Picture offers Daisywheel, a directional-based keyboard that supposedly makes it easier to type with a controller.
"PC gaming continues to be the leading edge of entertainment, whether it's social gaming, MMOs, graphics hardware, free-to-play, or competitive gaming," said Gabe Newell, president of Valve in a press release. "With Big Picture for Steam, we are trying to do our part to give customers and developers what they want -- their games, everywhere, optimized for the environment in which they are playing."
Making Big Picture work seems simple enough. All you need is a moderately powerful PC or Mac connected to a TV, along with an input device such as a controller or the tried and true keyboard/mouse. Valve recommends HDMI connections for ease of use, but other methods work too (DVI, VGA, etc). Of course, anyone can play a computer game on a TV using the above methods and combination of devices, but Steam's Big Picture offers a neat interface for doing so.
Steam's Big Picture mode launches today in open beta for PC, and comes to Mac "soon," according to Valve. Check out Kotaku's coverage of Big Picture, which covers quite a few finer details.