SteamOS isn’t just an effort to move gamers and game-makers over to a Linux-based system, it also wants to move them from an office desk or laptop to the living room TV. Valve has already tested the waters for this by rolling out the Big Picture interface for Steam last September, making the service much easier to navigate with a controller in hand and a big-screen TV a few feet away.
This initiative seems to be paying dividends in getting PC game developers to support handheld controllers in addition to the PC’s traditional mouse and keyboard. When Big Picture mode was launched last September, 23.7 percent of the games available on Steam were listed with full or partial controller support (382 games total). Of the games that have launched on Steam since then, about 48.4 percent have featured full or partial controller support (raising the total proportion of games in this category on Steam to 29.4 percent or 617 games total).
This could be a case of Valve simply favoring games that support controllers for Steam inclusion, of course, or it’s indicative of a general trend towards less keyboard/mouse-heavy games that has nothing to do with Big Picture mode. On the flip side, developers might be reacting to Steam’s long-running chatter about bringing PC gaming to the living room by adding more consistent controller support to their PC titles. In any case, the idea that you need a keyboard and mouse to play a large majority of PC games, or that the platform is unfriendly to games that need handheld controllers, is looking a lot less relevant than it did just a year or so ago.
That’s good news for a company that wants to get PCs out of the office. Back in February, Valve co-founder Gabe Newell cited controls as the single biggest issue stopping PC gaming from succeeding in the living room. He said it’s a problem that they were working hard to solve. “We don’t want to sell a bunch of [controller] hardware,” Newell said at the time. “We want to move things forward. We’ll sell hardware if we have to, but the big thing is to think through these issues.” More at Ars Technica