Developers on Steam typically have to generate and seed their beta testers with a bunch of game codes, which can be frustrating to not only manage, but also hand out, requiring communication through multiple platforms like Discord and email. Now Valve has included what it calls ‘Steam Playtest’ which aims to make prelaunch game testing easier for everyone.

In the coming days, Steam users may notice a new ‘Request Access’ button on store pages, which lets you ask for beta access to a game.

Valve says in a news update that Playtest will let developers better control how many players get access, when to add more players, when to open testing, and when to end.

Image courtesy Valve

Once players click the button, they go into a queue that developers can manage, letting in as many playtesters needed.

Steam Playtest is still in request-only beta right now, but it sounds particularly useful for indies looking to get seasoned VR headset users in to help with feedback on a host of things specific to the medium. Performance across different hardware setups, object interaction, comfort settings, and UI interactions are all areas VR users want to learn about before they hit the purchase button, so this will hopefully reduce friction for studios without the sort of Discord or email reach needed to generate a pool of beta testers.

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Valve: 'Half-Life: Alyx' Dev Team is the 'single largest we've ever had'

So far, no other VR game store has a system like this. Oculus allows developers to whitelist a particular Oculus ID and then give that person access to a special early build of the game, typically reserved for press review, or through standard code generation. Viveport also features code generation, although it’s admittedly a less popular platform for developers looking for much needed eyeballs (and hands).

Developers looking to add Steam Playtest to their games can learn more here. It’s still in closed beta, so you’ll have to request access and provide some basic info on what, why and when.

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  • Ad

    I am rapidly losing faith in valve, which sucks because there is no one else. This is nice but obviously I doubt the people who worked on this use VR, think about VR, or even played Alyx after the company wide playtest of the beta.

    • wheeler

      They certainly aren’t investing in VR to the same extent FB is (not to say they’d even have the capacity to–though they could do more with helping devs) but AFAICT the Valve of today looks just like Valve prior to the Index or prior to Alyx–back when the community was also criticizing them for “doing nothing”.

      I think what you’re going to see is more of the same: they’ll continue to work on hardware, games, and tools for the high end without much of any communication and the community will predictably oscillate between loving them and hating them between release cycles. Personally I’m fine with that because the high end is all I care about. FB looks to be almost entirely focused on standalone VR consoles (and AR soon enough) and I don’t think Valve really cares about that market

      • Ad

        Facebook will bind the market to the Quest, there is no gain for anyone else, everything else will be choked out.

        • TechPassion

          No.

    • Valve are continuing to support the Index with responsive RMA’s, my left BMR ear speaker developed crackling over several weeks. Within a week of making a claim, I have a new boxed speaker in my hands.

      There are rumours of a revised index that is less complex to manufacture using more readily available components, from my communication with Valve developers, it’s business as normal (low key, working in background, little to no PR)…it’s just Valve?

      • Ad

        It’s little PR but also little coming in the pipeline.

        • That’s part of the charm/frustration for many fans.

          Interested to see if the rumoured move of Valve HQ to New Zealand come true…

          • Ad

            He took it back and it’s a bad idea so I hope not. Months and months of moving and still lower productivity when they’re there.

  • Sven Viking

    I tried to test Elysium but their in-game signup form wouldn’t work.

  • As a developer, I find this a very smart and useful solution. Kudos to Valve