Valve promised to make three major announcements this week, and so far they’re keeping to their word. After previously announcing a new SteamOS to bring PC gaming to living rooms in the near future, the company has now unveiled their plans for not just one Steam Box, but an entire line of Steam Machines tailored to both the OS and the Steam architecture.
The Steam Machines will be built to a wide range of specifications, sizes and designs to best suit each customer’s own needs, tastes and price range, and will be coming from several different manufacturers, with the first systems shipping to beta testers in 2014.
We had previously feared that Valve might encounter some competition (or at the very least, over-saturation) in the ‘alternative gaming console’ space by revealing the designs of their Steam Box too soon, but their approach trumps all that. With new concept artwork of the possible selections showing that Valve isn’t playing it safe from a design standpoint, it seems consumers may have nearly as much freedom with their Steam Machine choice as they do with their own PC.
Before those Machines can be seen though, Valve plans to carry out a beta test of the core hardware, which will mean shipping 300 prototypes to a randomly-selected sampling of Steam users. Luckily users have until October 25, 2013 to make themselves eligible to be chosen, by following a list of requirements found on Valve’s official page.
So if prototype units are going to be sent out to users, are they the long-rumored Steam Boxes in the flesh, or something completely different? The company explains:
We’re conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests. At Valve we always rely on real-world testing as part of our design process. The specific machine we’re testing is designed for users who want the most control possible over their hardware. Other boxes will optimize for size, price, quietness, or other factors.
We’ll tell you more about it soon. Remember, there will ultimately be several boxes to choose from, with an array of specifications, price, and performance.
The list of answers to expected questions goes on to confirm that those selected to beta test both the hardware and the SteamOS will be allowed (and encouraged) to post their experiences, photos and issues online. If that seems more open than console manufacturers tend to be, it should: Valve has also confirmed that the SteamOS will be able to run on any hand-made hardware setups, and the source code of the OS itself will also be made public. In addition, users are also permitted to hack the Steam Machines as they see fit.
As the developers make clear (at length), more information will be coming soon. Valve still has their third announcement to make (controller? game?), so details on the exact specs, price and styles of the Steam Machines may have to wait. Strangely, we don’t think their fans will mind after this much groundbreaking news has already been revealed.
What do you think of the line of Steam Machines? Is a chance to choose a game console that actually fits your personality a no-brainer, or do you care more about the open architecture? Share your thoughts in the comments, and be sure to check out the full announcement on Valve’s website.
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