Conventional PC gaming may well be Valve’s bread and butter, but the company isn’t afraid to venture out into uncharted waters. After releasing a version of Steam for the Mac last year, the company is now teasing a "big picture" mode that will apparently take Steam into the living room.
Valve’s announcement is light on details, since the firm is setting the stage for a full reveal at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco later this week. However, it does gloss over a few key facts: "big picture" mode will provide "controller support and navigation designed for television interaction," and it will allow players to "enjoy Steam and their library of Steam games on more screens throughout the house."
I’m guessing this means Valve has cooked up a 10-foot version of the Steam user interface, and it may add support for controllers (likely including the popular Xbox 360 model) to its current and future games. Making it easy to organize multiplayer gaming sessions via Steam Friends without a keyboard might be a useful feature, too, as would convincing third-party developers to join the effort—although many already build Xbox 360 controller support into their PC games.
Really, though, I’m more curious than anything about how this plays out. Most of the major titles available on Steam can also be purchased for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I think Valve will need to offer a little something extra if it doesn’t want PC gamers yearning for a couch gaming experience simply to defect to the console camp.