Steam Big Picture mode hits beta next month

Posted by Shane McGlaun

The digital delivery of video games via platforms like Steam is certainly popular and may very well be the future of the industry.

However, the problem for many people, including myself, is that many US broadband connections lack the bandwidth required to download large video game files in a reasonable amount of time. I can actually drive down to Walmart and buy a game faster than I'm able to download one on my pokey Internet connection.

Nevertheless, I do have video games on Steam even though it takes an hour or more to download them at times.

So yes, I can understand why some gamers are quite excited about a new feature of Steam that is set to enter beta sometime next month. According to Valve, Big Picture mode will allow users to play Steam games on their TV in the living room with a proper controller and graphics specifically optimized for big screens - although a computer will still need to be attached to the television set.

"In early September you'll be able to hop into a beta, click a button, and see Steam reformatted for your TV and usable with a PC game controller, or a mouse and keyboard if you wanna play that way," said Valve designer Greg Coomer.

"Everything will be there, so you don't have to give up your favorite stuff once you walk from the den to the living room."

On the surface, Steam Big Picture mode sounds a bit like the Ouya console of KickStarter fame. The major difference being that Steam Big Picture mode will still requre a computer to operate. Indeed, Valvle exec Doug Lombardi recently reiterated that the company had no intention of making hardware or partnering with hardware manufacturers at this time.

Frankly, I think that's really too bad, because a hardware device designed specifically for the platform's video games would actually be quite sweet - esepcially given Steam's currently level of popularity.