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Forget the Steam Box, meet Valve’s ‘Steam Machines’

Say goodbye to the Steam Box, and say hello to the “Steam Machines.” Instead of unveiling a singular piece of hardware,  as many suspected was coming, Valve went one step further and announced an entire line of Steam-friendly devices running SteamOS, to be developed by multiple unnamed partners.

“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,” Valve’s announcement reads.

It’s the second of three planned announcements this week from Valve. The first introduced us to the SteamOS, a Linux-based open source operating system that will be free to download and designed around gaming and multi-media playback. The new Steam Machines will all run this new SteamOS when they are released in 2014.

Although Valve has not yet revealed its list of partners, it did indicate that there will be several models to choose from ranging in specs, price, and design. It also confirmed that users will be able to build their own box as well. General hardware specs will be released soon.

The “boxes” (as Valve describes them) run the Steam client directly through SteamOS. Several hundred games will be available through the OS, while any that are not can be streamed over a home network from a PC directly to the box, and then played on a TV. A keyboard and mouse can be used, but gamepads will be accepted as well; Valve specifically promises that it “will have more to say very soon on the topic of input.”

First though, Valve will run a beta test for its prototype. 300 Steam users will be selected, and the prototypes will ship sometime before the end of 2013 to those users at no cost. In order to be eligible, you must complete the following prerequisites: join the Steam Universe community page, agree to the hardware beta terms and conditions, have/make 10 people on your Steam friends list, create a public Steam profile, and play a game in Big Picture mode. These conditions must be met by October 25.

“We’re conducting a beta of the overall Steam living-room experience, so we needed to build prototype hardware on which to run tests,” Valve posted. “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.”

The third and final announcement will be reveled on September 27 at 10am PST.