Valve’s Big Picture (Console-TV Interface) Launches Today

For the past few years Valve, the makers of Steam and the popular Half-Life series, have been talking about entering the hardware business in one form or another.  While today isn’t that day, it does mark the beginning of something very unique.  Valve has just launched the beta for what they’re calling Big Picture, a complete overhaul of the Steam graphical user interface (GUI).  The big difference with this GUI is that it was designed from the ground up to work on televisions and with a standard game controller.  Take a look at the video Valve just released to help ease users into the Big Picture. Don’t forget to get the best indoor tv antenna for your new television.

That’s pretty darn interesting, isn’t it?  While Valve hasn’t decided to jump head first into the console race, this is being looked at as a first step towards that very idea.  Right now there’s one very large hurdle facing the Big Picture,  namely connecting your PC to your television.  How many people already have an HTPC (home theater PC) at home?  For those that don’t, are you really going to lug your old tower over to your TV just to make use of this?  I know I sure won’t, but it’s a question Valve wants answered. They’re going to use this as they would any other beta test, to gather information and see what works and what doesn’t.  They’ll know how many users actually make use of the new interface and whether this is something they should invest in for the long-term.

Valve has been very vocal over the years about how today’s consoles are far too closed.  If they want to release an update for Portal 2 they have to go through Microsoft and Sony.  Why can’t they just push the update to the users?  What about mods, why can’t players make changes to the game and allow others to download them?  These are all aspects of consoles Valve dislikes, and have said Big Picture is the first step into changing the idea of what it means to have a unified platform connected to the TV.

The real question will be, how many people are going to jump on-board?

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