Valve has launched a new Playtest feature, which allows developers to work with players to test out their games.
Steam had a number of existing tools to allow players to try out in-development titles – including demos and beta keys which were distributed by developers.
“Existing tools like demos and release-override beta Steam keys are already commonly used, and they aren’t going anywhere. Now, we’re expanding that set of tools with Steam Playtest,” Valve said.
Steam Playtest is built into the Steam client and allows developers to invite players to test their games without having to worry about key management or mailing lists.
“You control how many players get access when to add more players, when to open testing, and when to end.”
Once a developer has enabled Playtest signups on their steam store listings, players will be able to request access to join their upcoming game’s playtest.
The developer can easily deactivate this feature once they end their playtest, removing the Sign Up option from the game’s store page and the Playtest version of the game from players’ libraries.
“Behind the scenes, the actual download-and-play experience is happening on a secondary, supplemental appID, similar to how we handle demos on Steam – so a player’s ownership and playtime in the Playtest is separate from the real game,” Valve said.
“This means Steam Playtest won’t cancel out or compete with Wishlists on your real game, and Steam Playtest owners cannot write user reviews.”
Currently under development
Valve noted that the Playtest tool is currently in beta and is not yet fully released.
Playtest is also free to use for developers and players, and it does not support commerce or monetization, which means it is not a replacement for Steam Early Access.
“For now, the tools are still brand new and we’re in the early stages of gathering feedback,” Valve said.
“You can submit a request to us via the Help tool, but we’re starting really small, so most devs won’t be able to use the tools just yet.”