There have been rumors of a “SteamBox” for over a year now. Those rumors have finally come true, almost. Valve announced Wednesday that they are making their own living room based gaming console, but that it is only going to be launched as a beta to test its Linux based SteamOS. Other manufacturers will make the majority of SteamOS devices.
“Beginning in 2014, there will be multiple SteamOS machines to choose from, made by different manufacturers.” – Valve Announcement
The main announcement today was not a Valve manufactured Steam gaming console, but instead the announcement of Steam Machines. These will be consoles (computers) running SteamOS. As Valve writes on the announcement website:
“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.”
There isn’t much known about these machines, here’s what we do know:
- They will be running a Linux based SteamOS
- There will be many different boxes coming from multiple manufacturers, not just the Xi3 as mentioned in our CES2013 coverage.
- They will arrive in 2014
Other than that there is not much more to this announcement, at least in terms of news about the Steam Machines.
Besides their Steam Machines partnership announcements, Valve also announced their own branded console. Only it isn’t what you think. This isn’t the SteamBox that many have been hoping for, and that has been rumored for the last year. No. It is a prototype device that Valve is giving away to a small number of people to test SteamOS and their living room experience. According to the company:
“As always, we believe the best way to ensure that the right products are getting made is to let people try them out and then make changes as we go. We have designed a high-performance prototype that’s optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam. Of course, it’s also completely upgradable and open. This year we’re shipping just 300 of these boxes to Steam users, free of charge, for testing.”
Like the Steam Machines, there isn’t much known about this prototype except that it exists, that it is coming to a small number of Steam users, and that it will arrive on October 25th.
Getting The Steam Prototype
Valve will be sending out their Stream prototype to a small number of active Steam users, and a small number of eligible applicants. There is quite a process in order to be accepted, and remember that there are only 300 available, so keep that in mind before undertaking this “quest”. Here are the entry requirements as Valve states them:
[toggle_box title=”THE HARDWARE BETA ELIGIBILITY QUEST” width=”Width of toggle box”]
Before October 25, log in to Steam and then visit your quest page to track your current status towards beta test eligibility
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
You can find out more by visiting the source link below.
Frankly this announcement isn’t what anyone expected. Yes we knew Valve would announce partnerships for developing SteamOS devices, they pretty much announced that on Monday. The news part of this is that the boxes will be coming in 2014.
Besides that, the prototype announcement has to come as bit of a disappointment to Steam fans after all of the build up and rumors of a SteamBox. This announcement just leaves more questions. “Will there be a commercially available box made by Valve?” “Will the prototype testing be expanded beyond the 300 initial applicants?” “How much will these machines cost?” And more such questions.
Luckily, Valve has one more chance this week to answer these questions, but it is unlikely to answer them all. They will hold their third announcement of the week on Friday. Most pundits expect them to announce a controller of some sort, and to not talk much more about Steam Machine specifics.
[quote]Ed. Perhaps the most interesting part of this announcement is that it is clearly in-line with a device agnostic gaming platform for the home. That is good news for those looking to potentially virtualize such a solution, especially given its Linux roots. Another interesting aspect is that this is an about-face from the direction Nintendo is rumored to be pondering, which is to exit the console business. An absolutely killer feature would be the ability to run Steam OS accelerated in Windows 8 Hyper-V. Would allow everyday laptops to quickly turn into gaming platforms in short order, without impacting the underlying OS.[/quote]
Are you excited or disappointed by this announcement? Talk back in the comments below!