It’s taken a while, but Valve has finally replaced the old Steam Big Picture mode with a new user interface that is inspired by the Steam Deck, complete with tabs that just don’t work. In my testing, it appears to work very well, although other users are reporting a few kinks that still need to be sorted out. It was included in a huge Steam client update(opens in a new tab) that was issued yesterday.
Below are some images of the new user interface, which will look very similar to anyone who has played around with a Steam Deck. It’s really simply Valve’s handheld’s basic UI magnified to meet the dimensions of a real TV. Instead of having you choose between Store, Library, and Community (the first two of which usually just crashed Steam whenever I picked them), the mode now dumps you directly into a list of your recently-played games.
On my Xbox One controller, navigating is now accomplished by whacking the glowy Xbox button at the top, which displays a list of tabs for you to switch between, including Recent, Store, Library, and more. Compared to the previous system, which just loomed at the left edge of your screen while you browsed your games, this one is more streamlined. I anticipate that it functions similarly for users of gamepads other than Xbox.
On my mardy clunker with a 1080 Ti, 16GB RAM, and a Ryzen 3700x CPU, it pretty much functioned beautifully, although user caution is suggested at this time. Many Reddit users are complaining about Steam Big Picture issues, including latency in the UI, dark screens, high CPU utilization, broken controller inputs, and in-home streaming problems. Even though the only issue I noticed was that several of the prompts still refer to the Steam Deck rather than “Your PC,” there is still more work to be done.
But if you want to give the new Big Picture some more time in the oven, you shouldn’t have to postpone the update. By starting Steam with the ‘-oldbigpicture’ command-line option, you can still use the old mode. Although Valve will remove that option in a future update, for now we have that backup plan.
Even yet, I have to admit that the new Big Picture mode is a significant improvement as someone who used the old Big Picture mode almost daily and hasn’t encountered any issues. After years of it throwing errors at me, being able to actually use the store in Big Picture mode feels like a minor miracle, and everything feels a lot more streamlined and contemporary overall. I know it’s petty of me, but I prefer the way the new mode switches between screens, complete with Nintendo Switch-like clicks and whistles. Playing games on my TV makes me feel like I’m using modern software, which is good.