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.
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.
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).