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Valve puts Steam head-to-head with games consoles


Biggest online games portal looks to enter living room

Valve, creator of Half-Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead, is now just as renowned for its excellent Steam online game retail service. Today the company unveiled plans for a Big Picture mode for Steam, allowing for gameplay on a joypad, using a PC or Mac connected to a TV.

This move puts Steam, the world’s biggest online games service, with over 30 million user accounts, in direct competition with traditional console manufacturers such as Sony and Nintendo.

More details will be announced at Games Developers Conference (GDC) this week in San Francisco, but we’d expect a reworked front end for easy navigation and viewing from sofa distances, plus beefed up support from developers for joypads.

This will also put Valve in competition with Microsoft, with its Xbox 360 console, despite the fact that most Steam users are running their hardware on Windows. Microsoft’s own Games for Windows initiative has largely been regarded as a failure, compared to the burgeoning success of fan-boy favourites Valve. To add insult to injury, most PC gamers will likely end up using the excellent PC-compatible Xbox 360 pads on which to play Steam games.

“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.”

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