Valve has revealed the second part of its three-pronged ‘Steam Universe’ expansion plan- PCs designed to be used in the living room with support for controllers and running SteamOS, the Linux-based operating system that was unveiled on Monday. The PCs, branded ‘Steam Machines’ (why not Steam Engines, Valve?), are still in development but will start hitting store shelves in 2014 and will be made by different manufacturers.
If you’re worried that Valve has shifted focus away from Windows gaming and you will be forced to buy new hardware, rest easy. Steam on Windows will continue in the same way it has since its inception and the Steam Machines will only be meant for gamers who want a simple way to play their favourite Steam games on their HDTVs in the living room. Apart from the different hardware from different manufacturers, Valve will also be making its own prototype Steam Machine for the purposes of beta testing and aiding development. Valve will be distributing 300 of these Steam Machines for free in 2013 to veteran Steam community members and random Steam users. You can apply for one by doing the following:
Before October 25, log in to Steam and then visit your quest page to track your current status towards beta test eligibility. You will need to do the following-
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 hasn’t revealed the hardware details of the Steam Machines as yet but has stated that the Machines will sport different specifications and will be released in different variants by the respective manufacturers. Valve has also stressed the open nature of the Steam Machines. Not only will users be able to build their own Machines running SteamOS but they’ll also be able to install any OS on the Machines, hack the Machines, change the hardware and mod the Machines according to individual requirements.
The Steam Machines released during the beta process will be able to stream any of the thousands of games already available on Steam. Users will also be able to install the Steam games released for Linux on the Machines themselves.
The final Steam Universe announcement will be made at around 10:30 PM tomorrow and chances are that Valve will unveil details about some new, varied input options that will work with SteamOS and the Steam Machines, as suggested by the statement on its website, “...we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input.”