Walkthrough: Steam’s New ‘Big Picture Mode’ In Action
Big Picture Mode has been a highly-discussed feature for Valve’s PC-based service, Steam, for some time. This new mode transforms the Steam you know and love into a TV friendly, controller supported experience more typically observed and implemented by the console market. Big Picture Mode is finally out in beta right now, and though it’s simple in design, it’s usable and, above all, looks downright pretty.
Once you’ve fully opted-in to the Big Picture Mode beta, which you can do by going to settings and enabling the Steam beta update, you’ll be able to take full-advantage of Steam in its newest, television-formatted form. Come as we show you what all the hubub is about — we’ve even taken pretty pictures for you. Technology is grand, no?
You’ll first notice that a new button has appeared in the top right corner of your Steam window that says ‘Big Picture.’ Clicking that will whisk you away on the magical carpet ride that is Steam in BPM. After a simple intro plays that ends with the Steam logo, you’re taken to the start screen, which consists of three main options: Store, Library, and Community.
The entire dashboard has seen a revamp that bears strong resemblance to the redesigned Xbox 360 Dashboard and Apple carousel designs — the Steam Store is no exception. With hardly any lists or walls of text to be found, the interface lends itself to being far more visual, but thankfully still houses the level of detail that its store pages tend to show. See below.
The built-in web browser is also simple and easy to use, and even comes pre-loaded with site suggestions like Reddit, Google and Twitter. While it’s not perfect, it’s definitely one of the slickest, least-clunky TV browsers around. Also, it’s accessible at any time, regardless of whether or not you’re in-game.
Your Steam Library is also very much the same as it was, just more visually presented. Again, it’s much like the Xbox 360 dashboard or any iTunes variant.
Finally, there’s the third and final pillar of Steam: Community. While this current iteration of the beta doesn’t make use of the new community features like hubs, it does gather your friends and group chats together in one place. However, while you can view your friends and groups and start up a chat, you’ll still be taken to the default web-browser when attempting to view their profiles. Valve has indicated that these will be worked into the interface in a finer, more integrated fashion in the future.
All in all, Steam’s Big Picture Mode is a huge step for Valve as they attempt to wade into the living room and lean slowly away from just the computer desk. Big Picture Mode doesn’t have all the quirks and features we’d like right now, but that’s a beta for you, folks. It’s simple, it’s pretty, and it works.
And you should try it — it might become your favorite way of using Steam.