While Steam has already provided developers with tools for pre-release testing in their Early Access program, Valve is introducing a new way for developers to test their games with Playtest. The new system allows developers to manage test periods without having to process keys or mailing lists.
With this new feature, gamers will sign up for testing on the game’s Steam page, and all management will be done directly through Steam. This looks like a simple and simplified way to handle the test. This should be useful for indie developers with small teams.
Playtest allows developers to control how many people can access Playtest at one time while automatically adding interested users to the standby wait list. The developer can then automatically add the user to the test or terminate the test if desired.
When Playtest finishes, the downloaded demo game will be automatically removed from all users’ libraries. Playtest users will not be able to review the game, and downloading the test will not affect your wishlist at all. The information page on Steam states that without monetization support, it wouldn’t replace Steam’s Early Access, and developers could run both programs in the game at the same time.
The beta tool itself is currently in beta, and any developer using it can submit feedback and feature requests. Developers can find out more on the full Steamworks documentation page.