Last year, Valve said that it was working on updating its aging Steam Big Picture mode to something a little more modern. The perfect solution was to just use the Steam Deck’s UI, which was already designed to work perfectly with thumbsticks and buttons rather than a mouse and keyboard.
Over a year later, Valve is finally making good on that promise. To be fair to Valve, the company was likely more concerned with getting more Decks in the hands of eager customers than it was making Steam Big Picture look good, but now that the Deck’s production issues seem solved, Valve engineers can work on other projects.
To get the new Steam Big Picture UI, you’ll first have to opt into the Steam Client Beta, which you do by going to Steam, Settings, Account, and then Beta Participation, where you'll be asked to go from "None" to "Steam Beta Update." You'll then need to restart Steam. You'll also need to change the Steam client's launch shortcut with a new parameter, which is "-gamepadui". You can get more details on Steam's blog update.
As for what you can expect, anyone who already owns a Deck has a pretty good idea. The Big Picture UI gets a modern overhaul that makes it look a lot like what you'd expect from an Xbox Series X|S or PlayStation 5.
There's a new Home screen that shows recent games and what's new in your library, a new Universal Search bar to search your friends, library, and store all at once, and there's a new controller configurator so you can make custom controller settings faster and easier. There's a new system menu for easier access to different areas of Steam, and a new quick-access menu to provide even easier access to notifications, friends, and common settings. Better store navigation and a better in-game overlay are also designed to provide Steam players with a more controller-centered experience.
Valve is looking for feedback on the new UI, so Steam users should feel free to offer kind and constructive opinions on their experience.
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