Valve Officially Launches Steam’s “Big Picture”, Holds Gamepad-friendly Sale to Celebrate

Posted on December 3, 2012 12:05 PM by Rob Williams

From beta to release, Valve’s “Big Picture” took three months to see a final release, and while not too much has changed since we last took a look at it, the end result is very polished. To access the feature, you’ll need to apply the latest update to your Steam client, and after a restart, the mode can be accessed through the very obvious option to the top-right.

Steam Big Picture Mode

The biggest problem I had with the Big Picture beta was that it crashed every time I exited it – not surprisingly, a problem that no longer exists. At quick glance, I can’t tell all of what’s been changed or improved, but I do have to say that the experience is very good, and equipped with a gamepad, the interface is a breeze to manipulate.

One improvement I have noticed is that when you hover over a game that supports a gamepad, it lets you know with the help of a small icon (which can be seen in the shot above). This makes it easy to decide which game to play if you don’t feel like hauling out a mouse and keyboard – though, that might be required anyway in the event that a game doesn’t automatically become playable with a gamepad right from the get-go.

To celebrate the launch of Big Picture, Valve is having a sale to promote games that work great out-of-the-box with a gamepad. Notable titles include Sonic Generations ($7.49), Portal 2 ($4.99), Limbo ($2.49), Orcs Must Die! 2 ($3.74) and Alan Wake ($7.50).

  • The Focus Elf

    What type of hardware… or moreover, how does Steam manifest on the old LCD? The multitude of content being churned out is first-rate DS. This looks awesome, lord knows I have enough Steam Games. Maybe not as much as you. XCOM?

    • Rob Williams

      Well, Steam on the desktop hasn’t changed. The Big Picture mode is there for those who happen to want it – and in quick tests, I -can- see how useful it’d be on a big TV. I was impressed with just how fluid it was to navigate with the gamepad, and I can easily say that I prefer Steam’s implementation here over the UIs seen on the Xbox 360 and PS3 (though those focus a lot on non-game content as well).

      I don’t think performance should be much of an issue here, much like it isn’t in the desktop client (at least, where browsing your collection is concerned). It’s worked beautifully for me so far.

      • The Focus Elf

        Sure, it makes sense, I love the idea, and really haven’t experienced anything else… I’m curious though, aside from the TV and internet connection, what hardware can we run it on? I see PS3 is an option, nice to see that… Xbox? Kind of excited to play some of these controller games on my TV!

        • Rob Williams

          This is exclusive to the PC at the moment. Its best use would be on an HTPC that’s connected to a TV. I’m hoping that in the future, they’ll add functionality that will let you -stream- from a PC somewhere in the house to your Smart TV – that’d be pretty stellar.

          • The Focus Elf

            Yes I just don’t see me disconnecting my Caselabs Case and dragging it downstairs to connect to the TV, I hope Steam realizes that people with Smart TVs and high-end gaming rigs don’t usually use their PCs as HTPCs but likely have a decent home network infrastructure, I’d love to see it. Sadly, for now I won’t get much use out of TheBigPicture

          • Rob Williams

            I think the general idea is that people would build dedicated PCs (like HTPCs) to use it with. It’d in effect be a complement or replacement to a standard console. You can get some great-looking chassis that add to the decor of a room rather than detract from it, so the possibilities are definitely there.

            I could definitely see me doing something like this at some point, but literally all of my gaming is done at the PC and I don’t have extreme interest in sitting 10′ or more from a screen to do it.

  • madmatTG

    The new Steam client also gives you the option to install games to other drives or other folders on the same drive. On a game by game basis. Sweet.

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