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What just happened? Valve's overhaul of Steam's Big Picture mode that adds a Steam Deck-like user interface is now complete after four months of open beta testing. The change brings a much-needed update to the mode, which hasn't received a significant refresh since way back in 2015.
It was July 2021 when a moderator on the Steam community forums wrote: "Yes, we are replacing Big Picture with the new UI from Deck." We saw the first images the following September, and now Valve has finished the beta testing.
Big Picture mode, which launched in 2012, is designed to give PCs a console-like UI with controller support when connecting to a large TV. It's been well overdue a refresh—the visuals were aging and some features didn't even work. Thankfully, Eurogamer reports that it was implemented via a large Steam client update yesterday.
Valve wasn't exaggerating when it said the new UI would look like the Steam Deck's. The company has posted a long list of improvements, fixes, and other changes related to the Big Picture mode's update. Much of it is focused on improving the experience for controller users—based on the Steam Deck—which is the whole idea behind Big Picture mode.
Another major change is that the mode now starts with a user's recently played games, which is helpful when you just want to dive into the last thing you were playing. Pressing the Xbox button on the Xbox One controller—or the main button on other supported controllers—lets users access sections such as the Store, Library, Downloads, Settings, etc., which is better than the old tab system.
There are some Reddit reports of people running into issues with the updated Big Picture mode, though I had no problems during my time with it. If you do want to go back to the old interface for some reason, use the '-oldbigpicture' command-line option before Valve removes it.
If, like this writer, you often connect your PC to a large television for a more console-like experience, the update is a welcome improvement that makes Big Picture mode less of an archaic headache to use.