On its official site today, Valve confirmed that it is working on a hardware prototype and will be launching a beta this year, with 300 users eligible to receive a box for testing. In addition, "beginning in 2014, there will be multiple SteamOS machines to choose from, made by different manufacturers."
Users interested in joining Valve's hardware beta will have to log into Steam before October 25 and access their quest page to find out if they're eligible, then join the Steam Universe community group and agree to the hardware terms and conditions. They'll also need 10 Steam friends and a public Steam Community profile and will need to play at least one game with a controller in Big Picture mode.
Once all steps are completed (in any order), "you’ll be awarded a special badge, and you’ll officially be among the pool of people from whom we’ll choose beta participants / hardware recipients." The list will be locked in on October 25th, so all steps need to be completed by then. Valve says "a small number of users (30 or less) will be chosen based on their past community contributions and beta participation. The remainder will be chosen at random from the eligible pool," plus warns that creating multiple Steam accounts won't increase your chances of being selected.
"While these products are still in development, we need your help," Valve wrote. "As always, we believe the best way to ensure that the right products are getting made is to let people try them out and then make changes as we go. We have designed a high-performance prototype that’s optimized for gaming, for the living room, and for Steam. Of course, it’s also completely upgradable and open."
Valve also once again confirmed that it is "working with multiple partners to bring a variety of Steam gaming machines to market during 2014," noting that "entertainment is not a one-size-fits-all world. We want you to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for you."
As for why Valve is making its own hardware in addition to working with partners, the site notes, "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."
Source : ign[dot]com