It looks like video game developer and online distribution giant Valve will be making some form of the long-rumored SteamBox hardware to compete with video game consoles for the living room.
Wednesday's announcement from Valve is sort of a two-parter: First, they are making some hardware, or at least a "prototype that’s optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam," although there's no sign of the SteamBox moniker. They're shipping 300 of these "Steam Machines" for beta testing to users selected from those that complete an "Eligibility Quest." The quest is pretty basic, but does include having at least 10 Steam friends. According to their announcement, they will be "completely upgradeable and open."
The second part of this Steam Machines announcement is that they're working with a variety of hardware partners to bring different hardware options running SteamOS to the market in 2014 -- presumably most of which will be geared toward competing with traditional console gaming machines. Valve is calling this "a multiple choice answer" to the question of what sort of entertainment options work in the living room space.
This is the second of three announcements the company has scheduled for this week. On Monday, Valve announced it will try to bring Linux (and PC gaming) to the living room with the creation of a dedicated gaming operating system they're calling SteamOS that will be built around their Steam online distribution and gaming community network. According to the countdown clock on Valve's Web site, the third and final piece of Valve's play for the living room will be announced on Friday.