The Big Picture mode is one of the biggest innovations for Steam in the last few years and the developer who led its creation at Valve says that it was needed because the digital distribution service was broken without it.
Greg Coomer, a product designer at Valve, tells Polygon that gamers “were already clearly playing games in the living room, they had all this stuff that they loved about Steam and it was frustrating for them to not be able to access it in a place that seemed like a natural fit for the kind of content that they were playing.”
The developer believes that Valve needed to listen to the concerns of the gamers because the company depended on the goodwill of its huge player base.
Coomer adds, “We’re uniquely positioned with Steam to have the backend pieces that made sense underneath that interface, so we of course were able to put together an interface. But it’s everything behind that interface that’s the valuable part. There are 50-some million active users of Steam and a huge catalog.”
The Big Picture interface could have been created by another company, but only by deploying it via Steam were PC players able to see how it could change their gaming habits.
Coomer also commented on the way Big Picture would be used in potential PC-based consoles, saying that a lot of manufacturers and game developers are already interested in the idea.
Gabe Newell, the leader of Valve, stated during CES 2013 that his company was working on hardware with other companies, with an official reveal set for next year.
Steam is still the biggest digital distribution service on the PC, despite facing tough competition from the likes of Origin, Gamersgate or Uplay.
The company has a huge fan base that could make the Steam box a tough competitor for the next generation of home consoles from Sony and Microsoft.