Valve has announced it is building a game console. They are partnering with various manufacturers to create an entirely new class of computers under the name of Steam Machines.
Details are thin as to the hardware partnerships, but Valve plan to use these machines to bring the distribution juggernaut that is Steam, on Linux, into the living room. It will come with SteamOS pre-installed, and their aiming for a 2014 release.
"Beginning in 2014, there will be multiple SteamOS machines to choose from, made by different manufacturers," the company writes. "But first, Valve's prototype."
Valve has launched a beta for its very own box optimised for SteamOS, with just 300 to ship to dedicated Steam users. Here is how to apply for said beta:
THE HARDWARE BETA ELIGIBILITY QUEST:
Before October 25, log in to Steam and then visit your quest page to track your current status towards beta test eligibility
1. Join the Steam Universe community group
2. Agree to the Steam Hardware Beta Terms and Conditions
3. Make 10 Steam friends (if you haven't already)
4. Create a public Steam Community profile (if you haven't already)
5. Play a game using a gamepad in Big Picture mode
This is not the last headline announcement for Valve this week, as the clock on the page is now counting down to Friday 27th September, which if the last question of the FAQ is anything to go by, may be on the topic of control input...see you then!
Via Valve, here's the full FAQ about Steam Machines:
When can I buy one?!
Beginning in 2014, there will be multiple SteamOS machines to choose from, made by different manufacturers.
I’m pretty happy with my PC Gaming setup, do I have to buy a new piece of hardware now?
No. Everything that we’ve been doing on Steam for the last 10 years will continue to move forward.
If you guys are delivering an OS to hardware manufacturers, why is Valve also making its own box?
We're conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests. At Valve we always rely on real-world testing as part of our design process. The specific machine we're testing is designed for users who want the most control possible over their hardware. Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors.
How will you choose the 300 beta participants?
A small number of users (30 or less) will be chosen based on their past community contributions and beta participation. The remainder will be chosen at random from the eligible pool.
Should I create lots of Steam accounts to increase my chances of getting selected?
No, that won’t work.
What are the specs of the Valve prototype?
We'll tell you more about it soon. Remember, there will ultimately be several boxes to choose from, with an array of specifications, price, and performance.
Where’s a picture of it? How big is it?
We promise we'll tell you more about it soon.
When will the prototypes ship?
Will beta testers be allowed to share info about their experience and post pictures and opinions online?
Yes, that really is the whole point. The input from testers should come in many forms: bug reports, forum posts, concept art, 3D prints, haikus, and also very publicly stated opinions.
Will I be able to build my own box to run SteamOS?
Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?
Can I download the OS to try it out?
You will be able to download it (including the source code, if you're into that) but not yet.
If I’m not in the beta, how can I help and contribute feedback?
The Steam Universe Group is where feedback is being collected. Most areas of the group will remain open for participation by all Steam users. Some may be limited to beta participants only, but there will be plenty of ways to contribute feedback for everyone.
What games will be available during the beta?
The nearly 3,000 games on Steam. Hundreds already running natively on the SteamOS, with more to come. The rest will work seamlessly via in-home streaming.
What is SteamOS? What’s included?
Here's a link to what we said earlier about SteamOS. We'll have more details to tell you, soon.
Am I going to be using a mouse and a keyboard in the living-room?
If you want. But Steam and SteamOS work well with gamepads, too. Stay tuned, though - we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input.
I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.