Steam Playtest is a new service that has just implemented to Valve’s digital gaming platform to expand access to test games in development and generally improve studio contact with players.
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The goal of the Steam Playtest is to provide developers with a free, low-risk way to get gameplay test data for their title without having to worry about Steam keys, user reviews, or wishlists. “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. This means Steam Playtest won’t cancel out or compete with Wishlists on your real game, and Steam Playtest owners cannot write user reviews.” explains Valve.
The new tools will allow you to host the Playtest registration directly on a developer’s Steam store page and it will grant access from Steamworks (no need for a password). The developer will be able to authorize and terminate the test at any time through a simple deactivation process that will hide the registration option on the game’s store page and remove the Playtest from the players’ libraries.
This means that the Steam Playtest will not cancel or compete with the actual game on the wishlists and Playtest owners will not be able to write user reviews, no achievement progress or time played will affect Steam’s refund policy.
This service is not intended to replace the tests offered in Early Access, although it may be combined with them. Of course, it will be free for developers and players to use, as it does not allow marketing, payments or commitments.
Steam Playtest is in the beta phase. Developers can register to test the feature on Steam and players who want to see how it works can try to join a test being offered for the Total War: Elysium card and strategy game.
Steam continues to add features and is being pushed by the competition, Epic Games Store and others. This is not a direct feature for customers but it is for developers, but there are many users who would like to try out games before launch without having to pay for early access.