Valve has added a new Steam Playtest feature that lets developers easily invite players to test their games.
It means developers no longer have to bother with managing keys or external mailing lists, Valve said in an announcement on Steam. They control how many players get access, when they want to add more players, when to open testing and when to end it.
Existing tools such as demos and release-override beta Steam keys, which are already in use, will remain. Steam Playtest is an option in addition to these.
From they players' point of view, all they have to do is click the button to sign up, and they go into a queue. Developers can then see all those signups on the backend and let in as many as they want.
Here's how it looks for Creative Assembly's upcoming strategy card game Total War: Elysium:
Steam Playtest is currently in beta, and developers can make use of it while Valve works on a full release. It's free for developers and players. "It doesn't support commerce or monetisation, and is not a replacement for Steam Early Access," Valve stressed. "You could even use Steam Playtest prior to, or alongside, Early Access."