Valve on Wednesday announced Steam Machines, a hardware beta for the company's upcoming planned takeover of the living room. In the second of three announcements this week, the company said they are working with multiple partners to bring a variety of gaming machines to market next year, ultimately allowing gamers to be able to choose the hardware that makes sense for them.

Valve believes the best way to ensure that the right products are getting made is to let gamers try them out and make changes as necessary during the creation process. To this end, the company will be shipping 300 prototype Steam Machines to users free of charge for testing.

All machines will run SteamOS (the company's own operating system announced earlier this week) although beta participants are free to hack the box by running another OS, changing hardware and installing software as they see fit. Specifics on prototype hardware weren't mentioned although Valve promised to share more on that front soon.

The beta will include access to nearly 3,000 games on Steam, hundreds of which are said to be running natively on SteamOS already. The remaining titles are said to work seamlessly via in-home streaming. A mouse and keyboard won't be necessary as SteamOS works with gamepads but if you prefer a PC-style of play, go right ahead, Valve says.

Interested parties are invited to log into their quest page to track their current status towards beta test eligibility and perform a few other tasks (if you haven't already) like joining the Steam Universe community group, make 10 Steam friends, etc.

Valve's third and final announcement is expected around this time on Friday.