Valve has announced plans to ship official Steam Machines and Steam Controllers starting this Friday. Unfortunately, not just anyone can go out and pick up a system. That's because the first batch of prototypes are being sent to just 300 people that were lucky enough to make it into the beta.

In a press release on the matter, Valve said they had already notified the lucky recipients. In addition to the beta hardware, testers will receive a special badge on their Steam Community profile that lets others know they are part of the hardware beta. Furthermore, multiple games that run natively on SteamOS are being added to each user's library.

It certainly sounds like Christmas will be arriving early this year for at least 300 people.

Valve pointed out they had to make the difficult decision to limit the beta to the US only due to a number of regulatory hurdles - circumstances that weren't part of the original plan. Either way, Valve said it was the right decision because the alternative would have been to delay the whole thing beyond the point of being able to incorporate any feedback into products released next year.

Fortunately, the commercial versions of Steam Machines that will be up for sale in 2014 won't be affected by these regulatory issues.

Valve promises more information on Steam Machines will be announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on January 6.