UPDATE:Valve designer Greg Coomer gave us a quick reply to our query regarding how long it will be until the Big Picture beta will include Mac gamers. Though he couldn’t provide an exact time for when it would happen, he did confirm that Mac users are a priority. “We don’t have a specific date planned yet,” Coomer said, “but Mac support is definitely a priority for us. We won’t leave Mac users behind for too long.”
Back in late August, Valve announced that they were finally bringing Big Picture from the idea phase to the reality phase. Today Valve announced that the beta of Big Picture is coming later today. However, only Windows gamers get to cash in on the Beta to start.
Big Picture allows you to take your gaming habit from your monitor to your television screen by providing a reformatted screen interface that you can access once you hook up your PC or Mac to a television set, usually with just a single HDMI cable. Valve says that access to the complete Steam store and the new Steam Community is included. In addition to your complete library of Steam games, your cloud files, Steam Workshop content, account information and preferences will be accessible automatically in the new mode, too.
The new interface has been formatted to support either keyboard and mouse input or most game controllers. Big Picture includes a new tool for typing called the Daisywheel. There’s not a lot of info about this feature yet, but from the images the Daisywheel does seem to make it easier to chat and surf using traditional game controllers.
Another cool feature is access to a web browser within the interface designed for televisions and game controllers. The web browser is accessible from anywhere within the Big Picture UI, even in the middle of playing a game on Steam, so you can check out walkthroughs, for example, when you get stuck in a tough spot.
The setup page does a good job of going through the various types of computers that you can hook up to your HDTV to use Big Picture. Most notably, Valve says that laptops with integrated graphics will probably NOT provide the kind of performance you’d want. So beware of earlier Macbook and Macbook Pros with integrated graphics in them.
Unfortunately for us Mac gamers, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer. The Big Picture beta site lists OSX as a Big Picture system requirement, but also states that the beta would be “Coming soon for Mac”. There’s no word from Valve on how soon that will be.