First prototype Steam Machines, Steam Controllers shipping December 13

Brace yourself. Today, Valve announced that it's ready to start shipping out its first batch of Steam Machines and Steam Controllers to the lucky 300 users selected to participate in the beta. If all goes according to plan, the machines will ship out of the factory this Friday, December 13.

Beta testers should be notified about their incoming Steam hardware today. A number of games that run natively on SteamOS , Valve's Linux-based operating system, will be added to their games library for testing purposes. The testers will also be awarded with a special badge on their Steam Community profile, so we know exactly who to be jealous of.

If you live outside of the U.S. and are refreshing your inbox in hopes of receiving one of these puppies, I have some bad news for you. Valve has decided to limit the beta test to the U.S. due to "regulatory hurdles." The company had to choose between limiting testing to the U.S. or delaying the beta beyond the point when it'd be able to use the data they gather in a 2014 product. But this won't affect the commercial release of the Steam Machines, scheduled to go on sale in 2014.

Now feast your eyes on the factory where the machines are made. I imagine it as a Willy Wonka kind of place.