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Valve’s Poor Man’s Console: Big Picture

August 17, 2012

I was just telling ty the other day that I wanted a Valve console. Well, really, this is just about it. Bold italics added.

Press Release
Briefing Development Partners on New Features for 2011

February 28, 2011 – Valve, creator of best-selling game franchises (such as Half-Life, Portal, Left 4 Dead, and Counter-Strike) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today disclosed its plans for a new “big picture” mode of Steam which will offer controller support and navigation designed for television interaction. Big picture mode will enable gamers to enjoy Steam and their library of Steam games on more screens throughout the house.

“Our partners and customers have asked us to make Steam available in more places. With the introduction of Steam on the Mac, and soon in Portal 2 on the PS3T, we’ve done just that,” said Doug Lombardi, VP of marketing for Valve. “With big picture mode, gaming opportunities for Steam partners and customers become possible via PCs and Macs on any TV or computer display in the house.”

Details regarding big picture mode are among the highlights Valve plans to share with developers and publishers in its partner meetings during GDC this week in San Francisco, Ca.

Coming off the heels of Steam’s biggest year, Valve will also share with partners the data it gathered during the hugely successful launch of Steam Microtransactions late last year within its own multiplayer classic, Team Fortress 2. An in-game economy can now be readily created by partners using the microtransactions system within the Steamworks SDK.”We’ve come to understand what type of content sells well in TF2’s in-game store, and the various price points at which players value this content,” said Robin Walker, game designer at Valve. “Our players are continually teaching us what works and what doesn’t. Much of this feedback can be generalized to other titles on Steam, so we’re looking forward to sharing what we’ve learned with partners at GDC. We’re also intere sted in seeing partners get up and running with their own in-game economies, so they can collect game-specific data to inform their design decisions.”

Following the 2010 introduction of Steam for Mac, Valve will also discuss the integration of Steam features in its own titles, including its first day-and-date release for Mac, Portal 2. The upcoming Portal 2 release will also be the first to feature Steam on the PlayStation®3, enabling even broader cross-platform interaction and play between PC, Mac and PS3T.

“Steam continues to define itself as more than a digital distribution service by regularly adding new features for developers and customers,” said Jason Holtman, director of business development at Valve. “GDC is a great venue for us to share what we’re up to, and what’s on the horizon for Steamworks. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for us to gather feedback from partners, to help inform our plans.”

Steam is a leading platform for the delivery and management of games and digital content with over 30 million accounts worldwide. For more information, please visit

Via Joystiq

Also, thanks to ty’s world for the heads-up on this must-watch piece of storytelling!

  1. 3Suns permalink*
    August 17, 2012 5:28 pm

    Sweetening the pot.

    This is a great episode focused almost entirely on Valve first-party content, and future plans.

    If companies like Dell create a really affordable system designed with Steam and games in mind (complete with controller and headset), and then market it as the Steam Machine (on which you can also do your homework and income taxes), it would have the potential to draw sales away from the next gen consoles. It would have to be $400 or less, though.

  2. August 17, 2012 7:59 pm

    I need to sit and watch that video. But a Steam Machine would be absolutely fantastic. I’d love to see you guys come over to the PC. I haven’t seen Robbins in forever. All I can say is that mouse/keyboard is a bitch at first. But once you go there, there’s no going back. And even though people bash Source, it runs on so many machines. And the content! If you saw all the L4D2 maps, you guys would have a wet dream. I’m going to start capturing them soon.

  3. Blankman permalink*
    August 17, 2012 9:45 pm

    Valve can screw themselves on their plans for a Steam-driven console! Based on their track record of support for current consoles and the fact that they no longer create games, they F off! Seriously, when was the last time that they actually created something rather than buying someone else’s creation & slapping their name on it?

    Like I’ve said many times during our XBL chats, when there’s no accountability that exists on their corporate structure, how can they be expected to make good with their promises? Who the hell doesn’t want to sit on their ass & collect a huge paycheck? You can place your desk wherever you want, work/not work on whatever you want, etc. That leaked employee manual spelled out everything. Why the heck do you think Portal’s creator, Kim Swift, left her cushy job at Valve to sign up with Konami (of all places) to keep creating games. Yeah, that’s right. She wanted to continue to work on games, not sit on her ass like Gabe “I’ve had too many hotdogs” Newell. GTFO, Gabe & dysfunctional crew!

  4. 3Suns permalink*
    August 18, 2012 5:45 am

    LOL Well, Kenny and I see eye to eye on the “Buying their games” analysis, but I disagree about a Steam driven console. Steam is already fully featured and debugged, and this “Big Picture” is simply a UI overlay that is apparently ready to go live in a couple of weeks. Aside from maintaining Steam and keeping it free from exploits etc., there is very little more that Valve has to do. It is already years ahead of most of the XBL dashboard tech (including the areas of friends lists, clan support, game gift giving, and even achievements), and with far less obnoxious ads etc.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the launch of Big Picture were delayed some/many months. However, when they do eventually release it, I suspect it will need very little maintenance. Besides, while Valve has demonstrated their (lack of) intentions and priorities as regards first-party games, they have also very clearly demonstrated that Steam gets “all her calls put through”, maid service, and all the plastic her wallet will hold.

    Valve aren’t providing hardware or even promises of new games. They are just providing software that is already finished and proven. The only way in which Big Picture disrupts their current “work” schedule is in its promotion to devs (persuading them to add controller support for their games to broaden their appeal – something that is in the devs best interest anyway) and to gamers (“Just hook it up to your TV and try it – you know you want to get in on the community made, free content, and cheap ass bargains we have going almost every day”).

    I am convinced that the only people at Valve who are making games, are those who are “immigrants” to the company, brought in fresh for each new project. However, I cannot deny that Valve is incredibly smart, and genuinely has Steam and its features (both for devs and for customers) at the very highest priority. Steam gets roses and hand jobs daily.

    • August 18, 2012 4:01 pm

      Perfectly said. Agreed with everything. While Valve gave up on creating first-party titles, Steam is the best form of gaming in this day and age.

  5. 3Suns permalink*
    August 24, 2012 4:17 pm

    Tycho of Penny Arcade has this to say about the next generation (which implies certain things about the desirability of a PC gaming machine).

    When I was in the shower this morning trying to scour off a lifetime of regret, I was thinking about the Console War – you know, like you do. I play so much on the computer now that I come back to the Xbox specifically at the request of a friend, as opposed to any particular gravity-of-platform. I like Transformers for example, specifically I like seeing my friends turn into airplanes, and it’s vastly improved with a regular group so that’s something I can do. The rumbles about Microsoft’s Durango or Sony’s purchase of game streaming spigot Gaikai herald the next next gen, another gen altogether, and I already know what those games will look like because I’m playing them now. Sleeping Dogs looks gross on consoles, like gross.

    The graphics aren’t the thing, though – it’s everything else. I don’t want another console if it means I get the same retail assumptions and the same petty tyrannies. They can be places where things happen, where the software available reflects today’s actual game industry – living software, product as dialogue – or they can groom their little fiefdoms. That’s not an “upgrade” I find compelling. They need to be singing a different song.

    (CW)TB out.

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