Some time ago, Valve had put out the idea for a “Big Picture” mode for its extremely popular digital distribution software Steam. This mode would have a brand new interface that would be better suited to hooking your computer up to your HDTV and use with a controller, thus bridging some of the gaps between PC and console gaming. Now, the beta for the Big Picture mode has gone live. Valve has also released a video that lists some of the features of Big Picture mode.

Those interested can opt in to the beta through the settings on their Steam client. The Big Picture mode introduces many changes including a new keyboard called the Daisywheel that lets you type well using a standard dual analogue stick controller. The UI changes are massive, including bigger buttons to use with your controller along with a new web browser that Valve has dubbed “the world’s first first-person web browser”. After opting in to the beta for the Big Picture mode and downloading the appropriate updates for the Steam client, users can click activate Big Picture mode by just clicking on a big button that says Big Picture.

Recently, Valve had launched a big update to the community features of Steam. “The New Steam Community is all about showing off the best content that gamers have created,” says Emily Kent at Valve. “With over 89 million screenshots, videos, Steam Workshop maps, levels, mods, and items, plus news articles and product updates, the community has created an unbelievable wealth of content around their favorite games.”

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Steam's Big Picture mode beta has gone live

Some of the new features in the update include Game Hubs, Group Updates, My Content and Friend Activity, not counting other extra tweaks. Let's take a detailed look at the new features.

Game Hubs: Every game on Steam has a new Game Hub. The Hubs highlight the most popular user-created screenshots, videos and Steam Workshop items as rated by the community and combine it with related news, discussions and comments for the game all in one central location.

Group Updates: The revamped groups layout makes it easier to see what a group is really about, who’s in it and what they’ve been up to recently. Valve has added a group overview, friend showcase and more. Most significantly, each group will now have their own discussions area, enabling public and private discussions within the group. You get complete moderator control over your group forums, with the ability to create sub-forums, add moderators, delete posts etc.

My Content: The content you’ve published will also get a new treatment. Valve has put all the content you've created in one convenient place to make it easier to both show off and manage. This goes for all your friends and people you follow as well.

Friend Activity: See what your friends are up to in the new visually rich and more interactive feed where nearly everything can be rated and commented on. Share your opinion, taunt or help your friends, save the best content to your favourites and rate your friends’ content to get them to the top of the Game Hubs.

Other tweaks include things like sharing links on Steam that will automatically give the link a thumbnail.

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