Valve Unveils Steam Machines, Hardware Beta Coming Soon

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Valve Unveils Steam Machines, Hardware Beta Coming Soon

Steam Machines

Steam Machines are coming in 2014, and applications for a very limited beta are now being taken.

Monday's announcement of SteamOS was big news, but what's an OS without something to run it on? Thus, Steam Machines - plural, as you may note, because as today's announcement states, "Entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world."

Valve intends to partner with multiple manufacturers to build a variety of systems of various capabilities. No numbers have been revealed but the company said "there will ultimately be several boxes to choose from, with an array of specifications, price and performance." In the meantime, it's cooked up a "high-performance prototype that's optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam," and this is where things get interesting: 300 of these rigs are being built and offered to beta testers, free of charge.

Signing up for the beta is a pretty simple process but the quickie version is that you'll need to join the Steam Universe community group, agree to the T&C and play a game using a gamepad in Big Picture mode. Once you've completed all the required steps, you'll be awarded a badge and added to the pool of potentials - but you've only got until October 25 to put your name in the hat.

The Steam Machines can be "hacked," and while they will presumably ship with SteamOS, will also be able to run other operating systems. The hardware can be changed, users will also be able to install their own software and it will support a mouse and keyboard, although Valve seems more focused on the idea of doing everything with a gamepad. In fact, the final sentence of the announcement offers a possible hint about the big reveal coming on Friday: "Stay tuned, though - we have some more to say very soon on the topic of input."

"The topic of input" doesn't sound much like Half-Life 3, but fingers crossed anyway.

Source: Steam

Permalink

I had a feeling the third announcement would pertain to an input device or devices. I had considered other possibilities. A game (Left 4 Dead 3, Half-Life 3, new IP). A new networking/sharing/community feature or system.

However, after the first reveal, I was all but convinced the last reveal would be a controller of some kind. Especially when I considered the following:

1: Valve has been experimenting heavily with revolutionary and unorthodox input methods for the past few years. Including modular controllers. VR/AR glasses. Eye tracking. Biometric feedback.

2: Valve currently holds several patents for input devices using the above methods.

3: The first reveals image was just a circle; an O; and it was SteamOS. The second was the same O, but in a box. (SteamBox) The latter is two circles linked with a plus. Which, in an obscure way, looks very much like a controller.

4: The announcements this week all relate to how Steam is "expanding" into the living room. So a new, proprietary input device makes more sense then a game or other killer app.

I could be wrong, and part of me hopes that I am, but I honestly doubt it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That aside, I'm curious what the specs will be on these test systems.

For that matter, I'm even more curious what companies Valve's partnered with and what the specs on those machines will be.

Given that Valve's been indicating that they've gotten some of their games running on SteamOS; or Linux, really; at max settings with far lower sys-specs than with Windows or OSX, I'm thinking these boxes may not be as "god-tier" as one might assume.

Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?
Sure.

Well, this clears up the most important question I still had. We actually can build a robot with it.
Seriously, I want this so bad. >.<

I'd completely forgotten about the other announcements! I like the idea of having multiple 'consoles' that have different specs but how many could there be other than super high end, middle of the road and a basic model? Unless they plan to have each model with multiple versions that have different amounts of harddrive space.

As for the final announcement, maybe this is something to do with virtual reality? Perhaps Valve are launching the prototype they had been developing or are teaming up with the OculusRift folks?

Well FUUUU. I don't even like Half Life all that much, but I was still hoping for HL3 or Portal 3. I feel as if a small part of me was ripped out and stomped on.

OT, good on Valve. This is no way surprising, I honstly thought they already announced hardware. I got extra space on my console shelf and a buttload of games my hubby doesn't have in his Steam library. I shall observe this with interest.

Vigormortis:
3: The first reveals image was just a circle; an O; and it was SteamOS. The second was the same O, but in a box. (SteamBox) The latter is two circles linked with a plus. Which, in an obscure way, looks very much like a controller.

That makes me think more in terms of multiple OSs or connecting two boxes in an up-to-now unseen way.

OT: I just have to play a game in Big Picture mode and I'll be in the Beta draw (assuming they mistake my joystick for a gamepad).

I am very intrigued by how open-source the whole thing seems to be.

lacktheknack:

Vigormortis:
3: The first reveals image was just a circle; an O; and it was SteamOS. The second was the same O, but in a box. (SteamBox) The latter is two circles linked with a plus. Which, in an obscure way, looks very much like a controller.

That makes me think more in terms of multiple OSs or connecting two boxes in an up-to-now unseen way.

OT: I just have to play a game in Big Picture mode and I'll be in the Beta draw (assuming they mistake my joystick for a gamepad).

I am very intrigued by how open-source the whole thing seems to be.

Oh certainly. It does look a bit like two disparate OSs linked in some manner.

It could also represent two pieces of software linked in some way. Say: Source 2 and a game running on it.

It could even represent some kind of VR goggles rig. Each circle representing an eye.

Still, I'm convinced it's a controller. Valve's making a push for the living room. In a way, directly competing with the entrenched console makers.

As such, getting a dedicated gaming system in the living room is only one step in the process. They'll also need a dedicated input device that will be associated with the system. Much like the Xbox controller or Dual Shock are associated with their respective devices.

Most people wouldn't know where to go to get the "proper" input device for the system if one wasn't clearly associated with it. It would be a confusing stumbling block for the average user.

All this has me convinced the last reveal will be a controller. Perhaps there will be other aspects to the reveal, but I'd wager a paycheck the last will at least include an input device.

Maybe I'm stupid, but I'm still trying to rummage through all this techno markety mumbo jumbo trying to find a big blanket statement of JUST WHAT THIS THING IS.

Honestly, I find this kind of disappointing as the confirmation that it 'can be hacked' kind of crushes my hopes of a cost subsidized PC. I was hoping that we'd see a PC gaming console with Steam absorbing part of the cost, relying on Steam integration and game sales to drive profit.

But, with the ability to open up the consoles and swap out parts yourself, it's literally just a standard PC and I'm unclear on the benefits. At the very least, it means they can't produce machines at a loss as then it opens up a market of buying the cheap PC just to harvest parts for resale.

So.. Overall this then seems to boil down to a simple push of another platform into the market to compete with Macs and Windows. Not really a bad thing as competition and diversity is often good, but I'll have to wait and see if there's really anything worth drawing my computer buying habits from their current setting.

Chessrook44:
Maybe I'm stupid, but I'm still trying to rummage through all this techno markety mumbo jumbo trying to find a big blanket statement of JUST WHAT THIS THING IS.

Basically it's a range of PCs custom built to run Valve's new Operating System (Like Windows) that in itself is custom built for a living room gaming experience but with the openness of a PC instead of the closed platform like the Xbox One. So it's basically like an Apple Mac, but instead of being custom-built for Facebook and Instagram it's custom built for gaming.

Chessrook44:
Maybe I'm stupid, but I'm still trying to rummage through all this techno markety mumbo jumbo trying to find a big blanket statement of JUST WHAT THIS THING IS.

Will I be able to build my own box to run SteamOS?
Yes.

Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?
Sure.

If you guys are delivering an OS to hardware manufacturers, why is Valve also making its own box?
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.

It's an open source console with a lot of clout.

This is a good thing.

ToastiestZombie:

Chessrook44:
Maybe I'm stupid, but I'm still trying to rummage through all this techno markety mumbo jumbo trying to find a big blanket statement of JUST WHAT THIS THING IS.

Basically it's a range of PCs custom built to run Valve's new Operating System (Like Windows) that in itself is custom built for a living room gaming experience but with the openness of a PC instead of the closed platform like the Xbox One. So it's basically like an Apple Mac, but instead of being custom-built for Facebook and Instagram it's custom built for gaming.

Well that was succinct and to the point. Thank you.

It also sounds mind-numbingly pretentious. I have this feeling in the back of my head that Gabe thinks he is a heavier hitter than he actually is here.

Me55enger:

ToastiestZombie:

Chessrook44:
Maybe I'm stupid, but I'm still trying to rummage through all this techno markety mumbo jumbo trying to find a big blanket statement of JUST WHAT THIS THING IS.

Basically it's a range of PCs custom built to run Valve's new Operating System (Like Windows) that in itself is custom built for a living room gaming experience but with the openness of a PC instead of the closed platform like the Xbox One. So it's basically like an Apple Mac, but instead of being custom-built for Facebook and Instagram it's custom built for gaming.

Well that was succinct and to the point. Thank you.

It also sounds mind-numbingly pretentious. I have this feeling in the back of my head that Gabe thinks he is a heavier hitter than he actually is here.

It's... really not pretentious at all.

I'm not sure how you come to that conclusion.

Me55enger:
I have this feeling in the back of my head that Gabe thinks he is a heavier hitter than he actually is here.

Well, he's definitely a HEAVY hitter if you know what I mean.... Seriously though, Gabe Newell is no dummy and the fact that a vast majority of PC gamers are using Steam to run their games, he pretty much has that corner of the market on lock down.

Video games are becoming (some can argue, already are) the most profitable form of entertainment. Gabe is one of the giants of the business and now he's about to roll the console and pc market into one. Soon, it'll be nerd hip and people will consume all that is Valve/Steam (legions already do).

its... kind of odd seeing this particular faq

Can I hack this box? Run another OS? Change the hardware? Install my own software? Use it to build a robot?
Sure.

and it sparks a bit of interest in me to see what they manage to assemble.

still its a barebone pc with a hdmi port.

and i would really like to see the requirement without having to log into steam first. can anyone post them ?

Can you imagine what would happen if their third announcement is that Half Life 3, Team Fortress 3, Portal 3 and Left4Dead 3 are all coming out next year and are all Steam Machine exclusives?

... They have a lot of 3's coming don't they?

Oh gosh, like 6 different versions of "Steam Machines" with different manufactureres for them? This reminds me of something:

Can you say Philip CD-i?

This might not be a good idea...

Valve are going to release the source code for their Operating System too! Computer geeks will love this! It has the potential to revolutionise the market for gaming in the living room. :D Happy days.

Mr.Mattress:
Oh gosh, like 6 different versions of "Steam Machines" with different manufactureres for them? This reminds me of something:

Can you say Philip CD-i?

This might not be a good idea...

Seems to work now for the machines they use to run steam, they don't care if you have an HP, or Dell, or Sony, ext. Unlike the Play station, XBox, and Nintendo, it isn't about the machine. These machines are just ways to achieve the same effect as the streaming from the computer first announcement they had for people without a gaming pc.

I see a three in that star.
You know you do too.
Valve did it.
Valve have discovered how to count to three.
They just needed a power source.
One large enough to undertake such a task.
A supernova.

Oh and you know, some controller thing will be announced too.

Valve is being a filthy tease. Sure, go ahead and release updates to Half Life 2 and Episode 2 just a couple of days ahead of your final announcement. Don't worry, no one's going to be paranoid; certainly not me.

Andy Chalk:
The hardware can be changed

Out of every single bit of news about these Steam boxes, this is by far the best thing I've ever heard.

I hope I'm not jinxing anything, or engaging in stiff hyperbole, but we just may be staring at a new age in gaming.

Mr.Mattress:
Oh gosh, like 6 different versions of "Steam Machines" with different manufactureres for them? This reminds me of something:

Can you say Philip CD-i?

This might not be a good idea...

More the 3DO than the CD-i. It will undoubtedly have good games, but, with Valve contracting out the manufacturing of these things, the manufacturers won't see any money from sales of games. Meaning they need to get all their value out of the machine itself. So they'll be hideously, hideously overpriced.

OT, as long as this doesn't stop Left 4 Dead 3 from coming to my Ps4, I don't care.

Andy Chalk:
-snip-

Browsing through groups for the Steam Universe group, and it can't be found. I'm in the UK. Chances are this is a US only beta invite. Massively disappointed in Valve.

I guess the idea is to create lower-end PCs with an OS designed to squeeze every last drop of power out of the hardware. This would greatly reduce the cost to both Valve and the customer. Seems like a pretty good plan to me, though I doubt I'll buy one.

Also, Steam just updated Half Life 2, Lost Coast, Episode 1 and Episode 2 at the same time. Valve trolling us, or could it be... a sign?!

Has anyone made this joke yet?

But seriously, this is pretty cool news, the idea of a versatile line of gaming machines varying in size, shape, price, and power seems like a graet idea to me, this way the broke college student who just wants something to play games on can buy an inexpensive but under-powered console, while the hardcore guys who want to run the newest of new software can buy a more powerful device, but for a much higher cost.
Everybody wins!

Vigormortis:
3: The first reveals image was just a circle; an O; and it was SteamOS. The second was the same O, but in a box. (SteamBox) The latter is two circles linked with a plus. Which, in an obscure way, looks very much like a controller

It all so looks like a bespectacled face, and valve will need a launch title for the steambox.

Scrythe:

Andy Chalk:
The hardware can be changed

Out of every single bit of news about these Steam boxes, this is by far the best thing I've ever heard.

I hope I'm not jinxing anything, or engaging in stiff hyperbole, but we just may be staring at a new age in gaming.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't changing the hardware one of the huge big deals with PC gaming already? Unless this is a cheaper box to get how is this any better then building a PC. I mean hell most gamers who play PC don't buy prefab systems, which is what these sound like.

Vigormortis:
I had a feeling the third announcement would pertain to an input device or devices. I had considered other possibilities. A game (Left 4 Dead 3, Half-Life 3, new IP). A new networking/sharing/community feature or system.

However, after the first reveal, I was all but convinced the last reveal would be a controller of some kind. Especially when I considered the following:

1: Valve has been experimenting heavily with revolutionary and unorthodox input methods for the past few years. Including modular controllers. VR/AR glasses. Eye tracking. Biometric feedback.

2: Valve currently holds several patents for input devices using the above methods.

3: The first reveals image was just a circle; an O; and it was SteamOS. The second was the same O, but in a box. (SteamBox) The latter is two circles linked with a plus. Which, in an obscure way, looks very much like a controller.

4: The announcements this week all relate to how Steam is "expanding" into the living room. So a new, proprietary input device makes more sense then a game or other killer app.

I could be wrong, and part of me hopes that I am, but I honestly doubt it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That aside, I'm curious what the specs will be on these test systems.

For that matter, I'm even more curious what companies Valve's partnered with and what the specs on those machines will be.

Given that Valve's been indicating that they've gotten some of their games running on SteamOS; or Linux, really; at max settings with far lower sys-specs than with Windows or OSX, I'm thinking these boxes may not be as "god-tier" as one might assume.

O+O is a pair of glasses, HL3 confirmed!!!!

Note: I've never played half life and am not a fan of the series, just having a laugh.

BoredRolePlayer:

Scrythe:

Andy Chalk:
The hardware can be changed

Out of every single bit of news about these Steam boxes, this is by far the best thing I've ever heard.

I hope I'm not jinxing anything, or engaging in stiff hyperbole, but we just may be staring at a new age in gaming.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't changing the hardware one of the huge big deals with PC gaming already? Unless this is a cheaper box to get how is this any better then building a PC. I mean hell most gamers who play PC don't buy prefab systems, which is what these sound like.

No, no, you're absolutely correct.

The thing is, I was worried that these "Steam boxes" would essentially just be psuedo-consoles, without the ability to upgrade short of purchasing a whole new box that has a slightly faster GPU.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm glad Valve isn't turning into Apple.

They say 2014, hey? So in 2016 they should just be coming out

Scrythe:

BoredRolePlayer:

Scrythe:

Out of every single bit of news about these Steam boxes, this is by far the best thing I've ever heard.

I hope I'm not jinxing anything, or engaging in stiff hyperbole, but we just may be staring at a new age in gaming.

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't changing the hardware one of the huge big deals with PC gaming already? Unless this is a cheaper box to get how is this any better then building a PC. I mean hell most gamers who play PC don't buy prefab systems, which is what these sound like.

No, no, you're absolutely correct.

The thing is, I was worried that these "Steam boxes" would essentially just be psuedo-consoles, without the ability to upgrade short of purchasing a whole new box that has a slightly faster GPU.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I'm glad Valve isn't turning into Apple.

While I can see that as being a good thing, it just worries me that Valve will one day say "Screw it all games are SteamOS only" making the walled off garden he kept ragging on Windows 8 for being. Mostly reading this is, it's interesting but why bother. And I only ask because this smells more so like a attempt to get the non PC building group into Steam, which if that is what Valve wants fine. I just find it funny that Valve is making this out to be a "new" thing. I guess I'm more wait and see these days, hell even the Vita TV which I am interested in has me asking a lot of questions that Sony didn't answer yet; which to be honest is keeping me from wanting one. Same with Nintendo now, I would like to go digital but their account system is something I don't trust.

Well, as I don't posses a gaming rig, I'm looking forward to finding out more about this.

The changing of hardware and open source also sounds great, they just really need to get the specifics out there now.

It's not that I don't get the optimism...

I just see a lack of pessimism.

What this sounds like is a pre-built PC (the bane of THE MASTER RACE) pre-built with SteamOS and configured to work in the living room.

If this was anyone else but Steam, this forum would be full of pitchforks and torches. But because it's Steam, and people like Steam sales, apparently they can do no wrong.

Don't ever change, Escapist.

CAPTCHA: same same

Even the captcha agrees.

So its basically a PS Vita TV but for Steam games instead of PS Vita games. Seems cool. Doesn't warrant the major hype that was surrounding this but cool nonetheless.

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