Here's how to earn your chance at beta testing Valve's prototype Steam Machine

Valve will ship 300 prototypes of its in-development Steam Machines this year to Steam users for beta testing, the company announced today.

"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," reads the announcement page. "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."

To be eligible to participate in the hardware beta, Steam users must choice the Steam University community group and agree to the Steam Hardware Beta Terms and Conditions. Players must then add 10 friends on Steam, create a public Steam Community profile and play a game using a gamepad in Big Picture Mode.

Once these steps have been completed, players will receive a special badge. The page notes these steps do not have to completed in any specific order, but must be done before Oct. 25. On this date, Valve will lock down the eligibility list. Around 30 users will be chosen to participate in the beta based on their past community contributions and beta participation. The remaining testers will be chosen at random.

"Your help is critical to our design process," the page states. "Your feedback will shape both the new OS version of Steam and the new category of gaming machines that will run it."

On Monday the company announced SteamOS, a Linux-based platform and Valve's first step in bringing gaming into the living room. The operating system, built for "living room machines," will be free to license for manufacturers and free to download for users. SteamOS will also take advantage of Valve's Steam Family Sharing program, which was announced earlier this month. Family Sharing allows Steam users to share their library of games with friends and family.

Valve launched Steam's Big Picture mode last December, which allows Steam users to play their games using a controller on an HD television. Through Big Picture, players can navigate Steam using the controller, as well as type via the gamepad and utilize special UI changes customized for TV output.

Today's announcement was the second in a promised string of three. The final announcement will be made this Friday at 1 p.m. ET.

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