Sure, there have been rumors about a “Steam Box” for a few months now, such an annoying rumor that Valve keeps swatting down and denying at every turn. We’d believe them, we really would, until they do something like announce Steam’s “Big Picture” Mode, which is essentially a way to turn a PC into a game console using Steam. What Big Picture really is, is bridging the gap between the PC market and the console market, and it is being done with simply a bit of software and leaving the rest to you. That is, for now at least, while this is in beta and not an official consumer product.
The idea makes a lot of sense, so much so that it is puzzling that something like this didn’t exist before. The impression that I’m getting is that the PC gaming market is so isolated from the console market that there has always been a push and pull involved, with the PC market wanting to remain separate. Valve is looking to change that. The idea behind it is this; Steam’s Big Picture is meant to be used when plugged into a television, which for most people will mean a bigger screen than a monitor used for a PC. It is also meant to be navigated and played using a controller as opposed to a keyboard and mouse. Yes, you still can use the keyboard and mouse with this setup, but the general idea is to simply turn your PC into a customizable console that you can also do just about everything on. There isn’t even an official controller for this yet, instead, simply use whatever controller you wish for it.
This includes Valve’s own take on the on-screen keyboard, which will see using an analog stick to choose different four-letter clusters that you choose from with the buttons on your controller, and apparently it is far more intuitive than it sounds. Big Picture Mode goes into beta today, so look for more about it soon, and keep your eyes peeled as this could be a big deal.