Consoles and PC’s both have their own advantages and disadvantages. With the console you get an easy to set up system that you can plug into your giant living room TV, however because of the closed-box nature of consoles releasing patches and updates ends up being a chore for developers. With a PC, however, the developer is able to release any sort of patches and updates necessary for a game pretty easily, but at the same time PC gamers are stuck playing on smaller monitors away from the living room. So what if you could combine the ease of use and accessibility of a console with the openness and versatility of a PC?
Valve is answering that very question, as yesterday the Big Picture mode went into open beta. Big Picture mode is basically a skin for Steam that’s optimized for a living room setup. You have your computer plugged into your TV, and using a controller you can access anything you need to on Steam. What’s really cool, though, is that Valve has updated the way you type on a game. Instead of using the clumsy QWERTY keyboard like Xbox Live uses, instead you have a flower shape where you point your D-stick towards a group of letters, and then hit the corresponding key to enter that letter. According the Valve, people who use the new system are “almost instantly faster than [when using] QWERTY”.
Big Picture mode is available to all PC gamers to try out. All you need to do is opt into the Steam Beta Update on the Big Picture to try it out. I have to admit, I think the best thing about the Big Picture is that it helps establish Steam in the living room already if Valve decides to make their own console sometime in the future. Of course, if they were to make a Steam console I have a feeling it’s going to be unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The lines between consoles and PC’s has been eroding away for some time, and this just make that line even fainter!