On Monday, Valve announced SteamOS , a free Linux-based OS for living room gaming PCs. Today, it revealed part two of its plan to expand PC gaming beyond the desktop: Steam Machines. Beginning next year, multiple SteamOS systems will be available from different, unnamed manufacturers. “There will ultimately be several boxes to choose from, with an array of specifications, price, and performance,” says the Steam Machines announcement page .
Prior to launch, Valve is testing its own “high-performance prototype." Later this year Valve will ship 300 of these systems to Steam users for testing. Eligibility for the beta is earned by—yep—completing a Steam metagame. You'll need to join the Steam Universe community group , agree to the Steam Hardware Beta Terms and Conditions , have at least 10 Steam friends, create a public Steam Community profile, and play a game with a gamepad in Big Picture mode.
Valve's announcement ends with a hint about input devices. Steam Machines will accept mice, keyboards, and gamepads, of course, but Valve mentioned that it will “have some more to say very soon on the topic of input,” a possible indication that the final announcement on Friday will reveal a new controller or living room-friendly mouse and keyboard setup. Valve has previously discussed experiments with biometrics and unconventional input systems.
Hard details on system specs and performance weren't revealed by Valve. The FAQ does reveal that the SteamOS source code will be free to download, and that the prototype machine will be completely open and customizable, meaning the OS and hardware can be swapped out, and testers are free to “use it to build a robot.”
Story by Evan Lahti and Tyler Wilde