Valve has been sitting on three “big announcements” for the last week or so. A few days back, the first of those announcements landed: it was Steam OS. You can read about it here. Now, Valve has come out with announcement number two: official Steam hardware called Steam Machines.
It’s not Earth-shattering – we’ve known that Valve has been preparing console-like hardware for a long time now. At the beginning of the year, hardware company Xi3 unveiled a “Steam Box” prototype for the Consumer Electronics Show – it had official Valve approval and everything. It’s likely that that prototype remains in light of Valve’s new announcement.
The Steam Machine will come in a variety of flavours designed to fit the myriad requirements of contemporary gaming. Do you want a powerful machine, or a cheap machine, or a quiet machine? How much space do you have around your TV; does your Steam Machine need to be small? To that end, Steam Machines already sound more like a PC than a console.
Of course, they’re going to be open pieces of hardware, which means you can hack them, upgrade them use them “to build a robot” – Valve doesn’t mind what you do. Continuing with the “open” ethos, the Steam Machines will obviously be running Steam OS.
Valve plans to ship multiple versions of Steam Machines in 2014. They’re partnering with numerous hardware manufacturers to get this done, which is probably where Xi3 still fits in.
There will also be a beta testing period starting this year. You can participate and if you’re lucky enough to be one of the 300 chosen participants, Valve will ship you a Steam Machine to fiddle with. You need to jump through some hoops in order to be considered eligible, but it shouldn’t take too long if you’re relatively active on Steam and the Steam Community. Follow the “Hardware Beta Eligibility Quest” and complete the requirements before 25 October and who knows – you might get a Steam Machine beta model to test out. Those beta units are shipping this year, so Valve is very ready to get the ball rolling.