Steam has rolled out a new tool, Steam Playtest, that allows developers to run playtests directly through the platform without needing to juggle external participant lists or game keys.
As outlined in a blog over on Steam, Steam Playtest allows developers to set up playtests through their game’s Steam Store page.
Players are able to mark their interest in participating through Steam, and devs can then grant access or send out invites as needed through a built-in tool in Steam itself.
The whole thing looks to be built with ease of management in mind: developers can control when a playtest period begins, how many registered participants have access to the playtest, and revoke access to the game once the playtest period has ended.
You can see it in action right now on the Steam page for Total War: Elysium; interested players are able to click a button below the usual Wishlist space to register for a coming playtest, allowing devs to later roll out access to a set amount of players at a time.
“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,” explains the blog.
Valve’s Steam team also notes that the program isn’t aiming to replace existing features like Steam Early access. “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, the tool is only available in beta but developers interested in giving the tool a go can reach out to Valve to get that ball rolling. More information on that process (and the Steam Playtest tool as a whole) can be found in Steam’s dev portal.