The latest innovation from publisher and games streaming firm Steam is Big Picture Mode, which makes it easier for gamers to access the service through televisions.
A PC or Mac still need to be connected of course, through a HDMI cable for example, but then users can simply press a button to get a new full-screen user interface that’s been optimised specially for TV.
Interestingly, it’s also been designed to work with a traditional game controller/joypad, as well as keyboard and mouse. Effectively, it helps turn a PC into a console.
They can access the complete Steam store from there, the community and of course their full library of games, as well as cloud files, Steam Workshop content, account information and preferences.
They can go on the web, with a new browser that works with TVs and game controllers.
What does this mean for the industry? It could signal an increase in small form factor, discreet PCs, as these tend to fit in with TV stands rather better than a giant tower. The challenge then is ensuring gamers still have high enough specs to play the games they want.
It could also pave the way for Steam to manufacture its own PC – a Steambox, some time in the near future. The firm has in the past shown off pictures on Twitter of some kind of hardware, which looked rather like a modified Zotac Zbox to us.
"Sega’s roots are in living-room gaming." said John Clark, Vice President of Digital Distribution at Sega. "For the first time since the advent of PC games decades ago, gamers are finally going to have access to the kind of entertainment experience we’ve always wished they could have with our PC titles – one that’s incredibly social, comfortable, and accessible. We’re excited about the opportunity, and Big Picture has inspired us to bring even more of our titles to Steam in the future."
"There is nothing more satisfying than slaying thousands of orcs on your big screen. And many of the most die-hard players of Orcs Must Die 2 have always preferred playing with a game controller. Steam Big Picture Mode finally marries these two and delivers a true living room entertainment experience to players."
"We’re pleased that gamers on Steam will now be able to immerse themselves in our entertainment experiences in the comfort of their living room on large screen TVs," said Steve Glickstein of Take-Two Interactive Software. "From action and adventure to sports and sims, our titles deliver big fun on big screens."
"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. "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."
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