A second (and more exciting) piece to the Steam puzzle has been announced: After debuting its new living-room ready UI, Steam OS, gaming company Valve has announced Steam Machines, which will become available in early 2014.
While the name of Valve’s long-rumored game-streaming hardware is finally out for everyone, there’s actually very little information on what the Steam Machines will look like. However, Valve said in the announcement page that it has partnered with many different hardware developers to ensure that users will be able to get one that matches their needs and price range. Another possible selling point is that everything is open and upgradable, meaning that those that desire completely custom consoles will be able to do so without any difficulties.
In addition, 300 lucky Steam users will be able to beta test the consoles, as part of Valve’s commitment to involving the public in its hardware development.
The Steam Machines announcement is the second in a slow stream of reveals, shoring up the hype that Valve has cultivated in the two years since it began teasing the idea of a “Steam Box,” a PC/console hybrid that seamlessly ports popular computer games to the living room. The Steam Machines clearly are that fabled system, and Steam OS will no doubt be the facilitator in all of it — it’s an upgrade from the company’s Big Picture living room UI that also accommodates remote streaming and access to Valve’s cloud-powered Family Sharing Library. These two products together draw a very clear picture of how Valve expects to enter the console environment against big players like Sony and Microsoft.
Yet, there’s still one more announcement left during Valve’s week of announcements, scheduled for Friday. My instincts tell me that Valve has saved the best for last, and the graphic associated with the third announcement (the function of adding two objects together) indicates that both Steam OS and Steam Machines will factor heavily into this final piece of the puzzle.