In the second of three planned announcements for this week, Valve unveiled that it is working with multiple manufacturing partners to bring a Steam OS-equipped hardware to the market in 2014. The device, better known as Steam Machine, will essentially bring the PC gaming experience to the living room and in a bid to evaluate initial consumer opinion, the company is shipping a limited pool of 300 prototype machines to Steam users for testing later this year.
The company made the announcement through its website and posted some information regarding the philosophy behind the Steam Machine, too:
“Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you, so we are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014, all of them running SteamOS.”
While the customisable hardware isn’t due for a general release until next year, Valve is offering a select number of users the opportunity to test the device in 2013. In order to become eligible for this exclusive testing process, users must register and join the Steam Universe community group, agree to the Steam Machine’s terms and conditions, have or indeed make ten online friends, create a public Steam community profile and, ultimately, play a title using Big Picture mode with a gamepad. Crucially, players must meet these requirements before October 25th to be in with a chance of claiming a prototype.
Upon release, the device will have access to the 3,000 games already on Valve’s online platform, though the company remained mum on the Steam Machine’s internal specifications. Additionally, Valve is also rolling out the coveted Family Sharing program, with the feature now entering in active beta. Steam users ought to keep one eye on their email as 1,000 participants are to be chosen at random to test out the convenient service.
The program will allow players to distribute their online catalogue of games to ten different users. Those additional gamers will have the ability to save their progress to the Steam Cloud and even unlock their own achievements. However, Valve confirmed that any given game can only be accessed by one person at a time.
The company is poised to make the third and final announcement later today at 6pm GMT/1pm EST/10am PST. Our bet is on Valve unveiling a custom controller for the Steam Machine, but be sure to leave your own predictions and/or Half-Life 3 conspiracies in the comments below.