Steam's Big Picture mode, which aims to carve Valve's gaming platform a presence in your living room, today moved out of beta and is ready for general public consumption. When enabled, the feature optimizes Steam's on-screen presentation for an HDTV rather than your typical PC monitor. In doing so, Valve is making a big play at both the casual gaming sector and console owners that may be growing bored with aging hardware from Microsoft and Sony. Now users can assemble so-called Steamboxes that dramatically outpace the current crop of consoles, with the experience they ultimately take away limited only by their budgets.
Valve recognizes the controller's importance in the living room
One thing Valve doesn't want you to replace any time soon is the controller. To hammer that point home (and in celebration of Big Picture's official launch), Valve is slashing prices on a number of "controller-friendly" games with up to 75 percent savings on select titles. Counter Strike: Global Offensive, Left 4 Dead 2, Sine Mora, Portal 2, and 33 other games are part of the sale which runs through December 10th. Valve is showing a clear preference for games that offer full support for third-party controllers; titles with only partial support (i.e. those that require a keyboard and mouse for installation or certain aspects of gameplay) are not featured in the promotion.
Valve also released its monthly hardware and software survey, with results hinting that Windows 8 may not be the "catastrophe" some anticipated — at least in terms of adoption rate. The 64-bit variant of Microsoft's new OS has already surpassed all versions of Mac OS X to become the fourth most-used platform among Steam's community. That shouldn't be surprising news considering the massive advantage in games available exclusively to Windows users. Further, Gabe Newell was likely referring to Microsoft's increasingly walled-off ecosystem with his remarks, a problem his company is addressing by steering greater development resources towards Steam for Linux.