Valve’s Steam Big Picture mode ports PC games to TVs everywhere

steam big picture mode

Valve’s Steam PC game platform is undergoing an evolution that just might change the way we think of PC gaming. Teased during last year’s GDC, Steam’s newly launched Big Picture mode allows gamers to port the platform to any television, unlocking gameplay on a screen that’s most likely larger than your PC or Mac monitor.

The launch of Big Picture mode comes less than a week after Valve revealed that it has plans to launch its own gaming hardware. Whether this hardware will be the long-rumored Steam Box console remains a big unknown — but the evidence has been stacking up. 

Job postings have indicated that Valve has been on a hiring spree to scoop up the best hardware designers and engineers on the market, coupled with the fact that the gaming company filed for a patent on swappable video game controller components just last year. Then there are the leaked photos of a speculated Steam Box prototype that Greg Coomer, a longtime Valve product designer, had published to his personal Twitter account after him and a team of between 5 to 10 people finishing building the console.

You can see where Big Picture mode fits in. Kotaku, which got a first look and a hands on experience with the new made-for-TV interface and asked about Steam Box’s existence, wasn’t told much else except that Big Picture was a learning experience for the company,

“What we really want is to ship [Big Picture mode] and then learn,” Coomer told Kotaku. “So we want to find out what people value about that. How they make use of it. When they make use of it. Whether it’s even a good idea for the broadest set of customers or not. And then decide what to do next.

Big Picture mode ports the Steam gaming experience to a larger screen without sacrificing the user experience. By pressing a button, Steam instantly changes into a TV-optimized platform on your desktop or laptop, and gamers can connect their computers to their TVs via HDMI cable. A USB controller can also be connected, if so desired.

As with tablets, smartphones, and desktops, designers must design a platform, whether an app or website, for specific screen sizes, and that could mean changing the interface altogether. With Big Picture mode, it’s essentially the same concept — and, from the looks of it, the Big Picture user experience is reminiscent of what you’d find on consoles sporting an interface with larger fonts and buttons. It makes it more convenient to play Steam games on your television and even with a controller in lieu of a keyboard.

Big Picture mode is one reason for PC gamers to sit on their couch with a controller in hand. Playing a first-person shooter like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive on a 42-inch (or wider) TV screen will be an immersive experience that can’t compare to your conventional desktop monitor. But a question remains: are Steam gamers ready for console gaming? Maybe Valve is in fact testing out the waters with Big Picture mode to see just how many users will make the jump before Valve decides to enter console gaming. Or maybe not…

Update: Valve released a video showcasing Steam’s Big Picture mode, which you can check out below:

Product Review

Hisense’s new H8E 4K TV serves up a pretty picture at a very nice price

Budget TVs continue to get more attractive and that includes the latest from Chinese TV maker Hisense. The company’s new H8E offers 4K resolution, HDR, and a slick design for well under $500.
Home Theater

The seven best TVs you can buy right now, from budget to big screen

Looking for a new television? In an oversaturated market, buying power is at an all-time high, but you'll need to cut through the rough to find a diamond. We're here to help with our picks for the best TVs of 2018.

Here are the best 4K TV deals for November 2018

There's no doubt that a good 4K smart TV is the best way to take your home entertainment setup to the next level to enjoy all your favorite shows, movies, and games in glorious Ultra HD. We've got the best 4K TV deals right here.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.

How to become a master assassin and perfect the art of execution in 'Hitman 2'

'Hitman 2' introduces new and improved story missions with a scale that can feel overwhelming if you're not prepared. Learn everything you need to know to obtain a high score while remaining unnoticed.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Nissan turmoil, product designer Jae Yoo of Nerf, and more

For today's episode of Digital Trends Live, we turn our attention to the L.A. Auto Show and Lamborghini's race-ready version of the Urus. We also speak with Jae Yoo of Nerf and MLS defender Zarek Valentin about their origins, modern tech…

Playing ‘Battlefield V’ on an $800 Nvidia card is stunning. And disappointing

‘Battlefield V’ is the first game to use Nvidia’s ray tracing support, now available with the RTX 2080 and 2080 Ti graphics cards. The feature can, in an ideal scenario, make the game look better, but the performance hit may not be…

The best Gamestop Black Friday deals in 2018

Gamestop is hosting one heck of a Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotion period, highlighted by excellent deals on games, gaming consoles, and gaming accessories. We combed through everything and have all the best Gamestop Black Friday…

The best cheap-but-awesome PlayStation 4 game deals under $20

The PlayStation 4 has hit its stride in recent years and is now more affordable than ever. If you have a PS4 or are thinking of buying one, we’ve collected some must-have games. The best part? Each of these is just $20 or less.

Valve responds after ‘Artifact’ slammed for taking microtransactions too far

Streamers and gamers heavily criticized the monetization model of Artifact, as the digital card game may have taken microtransactions too far. Valve quickly responded to the feedback, with planned changes to the game's public beta.

‘Darksiders III’ gets its own Fury-led ASMR series, and it’s weird

Darksiders III is out in less than a week, and to celebrate the game's impending release, publisher THQ Nordic has released an ASMR video starring Fury. The video focuses on her fire abilities.

Check out the best Xbox One deals and bundles for November 2018

Microsoft's consoles are just as capable of streaming movies as they are of playing the latest games. Check out our top Xbox One deals and bundles, which include new and upcoming triple-A games like Battlefield V and Fallout 76.

Play cowboy in the new limited-time ‘Fortnite’ Wild West mode

Epic Games has added a new limited-time Wild West mode to Fortnite: Battle Royale. The mode limits players to weapons from the time period, including revolves, hunting rifles, and shotguns.

'Pokémon: Let's Go' is a different kind of Pokémon game. Here's how to master it

Pokémon: Let's Go is a mashup of traditional Pokémon RPGs and Pokémon Go. Still, new mechanics will make it feel somewhat new for even seasoned trainers. To help you on your journey to Victory Road, check out these tips and tricks in our…