Hey 300 Steam Machine Beta Winners, Valve’s Shipping Your Systems on Friday

Happy holidays, lucky beta participants, your living-room-PCs-of-the-future are nearly here.

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Exactly 300 people who might chance on this story have reason to care about its content, while the rest of us have to peruse it with envy, like all those kids outside the Chocolate Factory gates who didn’t win a golden ticket.

But for you lucky, lucky 300, Valve just announced it’s shipping Steam Machines and Steam Controllers (those funky looking no-joystick gamepads that might, emphasis might, just revolutionize living room-slash-PC gaming) to all 300 selected beta testers this Friday, December 13. That photo up top is from Valve’s production line.

But wait, did Valve announce which 300 won the lottery? Not yet: Valve says it’s going to notify recipients at around 5pm ET today (fingernails out of mouths, people). If you happen to see a friend sporting an online “beta participant” Steam badge by week’s end, you’ve stumbled on one of the fortunate few. That, and Valve says it’s loading beta tester Steam accounts up with “a number of games,” so there’s your holiday made even more joyful, folks.

Alas, of those 300, exactly zero live outside the U.S. — Valve says it ran into “regulatory hurdles,” and thus had to limit the beta to Steam users stateside. According to Valve:

This was not our original plan, and it means we can’t collect beta feedback from Steam customers world-wide, which is pretty unfortunate. All things considered, we’re sure it was the right decision, because the alternative was to delay the whole beta beyond the point when we’d be able to incorporate any feedback into the 2014 products. This decision only affects Valve’s 300 prototype units; the commercial versions of Steam Machines that are for sale in 2014 won’t be affected by this.

That said, it sounds like SteamOS is going to be available to everyone this Friday, too, downloadable both “by individual users and commercial OEMs” when the prototype units ship. Valve cautions against bothering, though, “unless you’re an intrepid Linux hacker already,” which is one of those teases I suspect just catalyzed/recruited a new wave of tinkerers.