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Steam enter the living room with Big Picture
Steam enters the Living Room with Big Picture

By Rasmus Larsen (@flatpanels)
04 Dec 2012

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If you like games you probably know Steam for PC. Steam now wants to conquer the living room with an untraditional approach. Instead of a game console you just use your PC, the “Big Picture” function and a gamepad to enjoy gaming on the big-size TV. But is it a real competitor to Xbox and PS3?

Steam in your living room with Big Picture

Steam has been running a beta of their Big Picture feature for some time but yesterday it officially came out of beta and is now available to the public.

Steam Big Picture
Steam wants to conquer the living room with Big Picture

The idea is simple. Steam wants to offer all their games and the complete gaming experience from a PC on the big living room TV. But they do not want to reinvent the wheel so they have developed a so-called Big Picture function. Now you just connect a PC – almost any PC – to the living room TV and press the Big Picture button from within Steam.

The idea is simple: Steam on the big living room TV
The approach is unusual: A PC instead of a game console box

The Big Picture function is a full-screen TV mode that has been optimized for a gamepad but you can also use a keyboard and a mouse if you like. The interface on the TV is easy to navigate and you can play and buy games through Steam as if you were on the PC.

The approach is unusual but it could work. By enabling users to utilize a PC, you can also tweak and optimize as you please. You can basically build the most extreme Steam PC for the Big Picture mode and enjoy graphics that far exceed graphics on game consoles today, or go with a budget solution. It is entirely up to you.

Steam Big Picture
Steam wants to conquer the living room with Big Picture

Opens with a promotion

Steam opens the Big Picture initiative with a promotion. From today through December 10 you can get up to 75 percent discount on controller-optimized games for Big Picture, including Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Left 4 Dead 2, Sine Mora, Portal 2, and 33 other games.

Besides the games mentioned above, 387 other games claim partial controller support, which basically means that you have to use a keyboard or mouse while installing or while navigating the menus but not in-game.

Steam’s Big Picture also offers a full-blown internet browser that has been optimized for the gamepad. You can see everything demonstrated in the video at the end.

Steam Big Picture
All Steam games are available through Big Picture

The unusual living room approach from Steam is very interesting and we look forward to seeing where it can take the game console market in a few years. Steam has a huge group of active users so we suggest that Microsoft and Sony watch closely. The game console market is definitely changing.


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