Valve is partnering with hardware manufacturers to bring a range of Steam Machines into your living room, but first it wants you to beta test its own design. The company spelled out its long-awaited Steam hardware initiative on its website today:
"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."
Before then, Valve will send 300 of its own kits to users in the wild. Valvedidn't reveal their specifications, but the company did say users will be able to beta test "hundreds" of games running natively on the new operating system, stream the rest of the library from home PCs, and discuss their experiences freely with no non-disclosure agreements.
The prototypes will begin shipping out this year, but only to those who complete the Hardware Beta Eligibility Quest: join the official group, agree to the terms and conditions, get at least 10 Steam friends, open a public profile, and play a game with a gamepad in Big Picture Mode.
What about a controller? The machines are usable with mouse and keyboard, but Valve says it will "have some more to say very soon on the topic of input." We wouldn't be surprised if Steam Certified Controllers of some kind are the final Steam Universe announcement planned for Friday.