Valve’s Steam Machines Hardware Launches in 2014, Prototype Beta Testing Begins this Year

SteamMachines

Stop calling it the Steam Box. Valve’s living room gaming hardware, running the dedicated Steam operating system, is now being called Steam Machines.

Steam Machines from various manufacturers will begin to hit the market in 2014, but first Valve needs help testing its own hardware. This year, Valve will be shipping 300 prototype boxes running SteamOS to Steam users who complete the following “Eligibility Quest” checklist:

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

Valve currently is not showing any images or revealing the specs for its Steam Machines prototype, but has said that there will be “several boxes to choose from, with an array of specifications, price, and performance.” The systems will also be completely open and hackable, allowing users to customize their machine with any hardware, operating system, or software of their choosing.

Below, you will find a Q&A about Steam Machines, via store.steampowered.com/livingroom. The last topic about input options seems to be a teaser for the third and final announcement scheduled to post on Friday. Is Valve hinting at the design of a special controller for its living room machines? Could be, but you’ll just have to stay tuned to find out in just two more days!

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?
This year.

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?
Yes.

Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?
Sure.

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.

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!