Steam Consoles Inbound, Not Powered By Hot Air
Valve revealed the SteamOS on Monday, a new operating system based on Linux, that is meant to make PC-gaming in the livingroom more enjoyable. This was, however, only one of three announcements Valve were to bring out this week. Rumors have been spreading like wildfire, about what the two other announcements could be.
"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."
Uh-oh. Valve aren't making a consoles. They're making a bunch of them! Though some may argue that this sounds quite odd, and can help split the market into even smaller niches, Valve say they've got things covered. The Steam Machines won't technically be consoles in the traditional sense. They'll instead sort of be pre-set gaming PCs, that are more dedicated to gaming than regular PCs. Apparently.
"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."
Reading the FAQ below the announcement reveals that the Steam machines will be open, both hardware- and software-wise. You can hack them, change the hardware, install a different OS and so on.
So to sum things up, Steam Machines is not a fourth major console to enter the market. Instead, it's an initiative that can potentially make PC-gaming easier to get into, for a lot of console gamers that previously felt intimidated by the price of gaming PCs, and the process of building and maintaining them. This, Valve hope to do by offering pre-set gaming PCs with the SteamOS ready installed.
From early in 2014, these systems will be ready for order, but there is also a beta underway that begins later this year. You can apply to take part in that, but you need to have a lot of luck with you.
Here's how to participate
Want to make yourself eligible to participate in the beta? Add yourself to the list of candidates by completing the Eligibility Quest on Steam. Sound hard? It's not.
THE HARDWARE BETA ELIGIBILITY QUEST:
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 complete the steps in any order. Once you've completed all of the steps, you'll be awarded a special badge, and you'll officially be among the pool of people from whom we'll choose beta participants / hardware recipients. On October 25th, the list will be locked. So complete the quest before then! Your help is critical to our design process. Your feedback will shape both the new OS version of Steam and the new category of gaming machines that will run it.
Don't get too excited, though. Only 300 people will be chosen to take part in the hardware beta.
So, what will the next big announcement be? Well, we can only hope and pray wHiL3 we wait until friday.
Incidentally, Steam's Family Sharing initiative has just entered closed beta, giving access to one thousand members of the official Steam group group.