We've already seen Valve's own Steam Machines prototype and now third-party Steam Machines are beginning to make themselves manifest. Hardware vendor IBuyPower has showed off its Steam Machines prototype to Engadget. The company didn't clue Engadget in about the prototype's internals, but it did reveal that it has two similar models coming. The first model is code-named Gordon and the second is code-named Freeman, both based off the name of Half-Life protagonist Gordon Freeman. The only difference between to two is the lightbar around the device's center: one model is black when the lightbar isn't illuminated, while the other is clear.
IBuyPower says its Steam Machines should run all Steam games in 1080p at 60 fps. The company is targeting a 2014 launch for its prototypes, but it admits that Steam OS is still in the early build stage. IBuyPower will be showing off its prototypes at CES 2014 next year. Further pictures and renders can be found on Engadget.
Also, Valve is giving you the chance to join me in the review trenches. The company has decided just linking to Metacritic isn't good enough for Steam anymore, so Valve has launched Steam Reviews. The new feature is an extension of the previous Steam Recommendations, allowing users to review titles that they've loaded up in Steam. All previous Steam Recommendations have been automatically converted into Steam Reviews.
Like Amazon's review system - if it ain't broke, take it - users can give a thumbs-up if they find a review helpful or thumbs-down if they feel its a bad review. Abusive reviews can also be reported via a flagging system.
Metacritic scores will still be listed on a store's page and Steam Reviews won't add up to an aggregate score yet, so Metacritic doesn't have anything to worry about right now. Steam Reviews just allows Steam's internal community to review and recommend the games they've enjoyed.
"We are looking to add that during the beta," says the Steam Reviews FAQ on a possible aggregate review score. "Many products on Steam change significantly over time as the game or software is updated and new content is added. In order to form a score that accurately reflects the current state of a product, we first need to gather and evaluate the data from reviews."
Steam Reviews could turn out poorly, but it's a good idea to get more viewpoints out there and if the system doesn't work, Valve is quick to iterate. Steam Greenlight isn't perfect yet, but it's a big improvement on when the system first launched. Are you ready to review Steam games?