- Updates to Steam Early Access Rules For Developers
- NOVEMBER 17 - ALDEN
- Steam Early Access is a way to invite customers to get involved with your game as you develop, so that you can get the feedback you need to make better informed product decisions and to ensure the best outcome for your customers and fans. When you launch a game in Steam Early Access, there is an expectation by customers that you will continue development to a point where you have what you consider a 'finished' game. We know that nobody can predict the future, and circumstances frequently change, which may result in a game failing to reach a 'finished' state, or may fail to meet customer expectations in some other way. We work hard to make sure this risk is communicated clearly to customers, but we also ask that developers follow a set of rules that are intended to help inform customers and set proper expectations when purchasing your game.
- With that in mind, we've updated our Steam Early Access documentation with a set of rules and guidelines for when developers should consider Early Access, and things you should and shouldn't do during Early Access.
- These are rules that you need to follow for your title in Steam Early Access.
- You must include Steam Early Access branding and information about the current state of your game on any third-party sites where you are distributing Steam keys for your Early Access game.
- We work really hard to make sure that customers understand what they are buying when they get an Early Access title on Steam. But we've seen that many of these titles are sold as keys on other websites where there is no explanation of what Early Access is or what the current state of your product is now versus what you hope to achieve. As a result, we are now requiring developer to include the Steam Early Access branding as well as information on the current state of your game and a link to the Steam Early Access FAQ on any site where you are selling Steam keys for your Early Access title. You should also include the Early Access questions that you answered when setting up your Steam page. You can read more in the Steam Branding Guidelines[partner.steamgames.com].
- Do not make specific promises about future events.
- For example, there is no way you can know exactly when the game will be finished, that the game will be finished, or that planned future additions will definitely happen. Do not ask your customers to bet on the future of your game. Customers should be buying your game based on its current state, not on promises of a future that may or may not be realized.
- Steam Early Access titles need to be available to customers through Steam.
- If Valve is enabling your Early Access game we expect you to have the Early Access game available for sale on the Steam store. Do not offer it for sale on Steam any later than you offer it anywhere else.
- Don't overcharge Steam customers.
- We expect Steam customers to get a price for the Early Access game no higher than they are offered on any other service or website. Please make sure that’s the case.
- These are suggestions for ensuring a better experience for customers.
- Don’t launch in Early Access if you can’t afford to develop with very few or no sales.
- There is no guarantee that your game will sell as many units as you anticipate. If you are counting on selling a specific number of units to survive and complete your game, then you need to think carefully about what it would mean for you or your team if you don't sell that many units. Are you willing to continue developing the game without any sales? Are you willing to seek other forms of investment?
- Make sure you set expectations properly everywhere you talk about your game.
- For example, if you know your updates during Early Access will break save files or make the customer start over with building something, make sure you say that up front. And say this everywhere you sell your Steam keys.
- Don't launch in Early Access without a playable game.
- If you have a tech demo, but not much gameplay yet, then it’s probably too early to launch in Early Access. If you are trying to test out a concept and haven't yet figured out what players are going to do in your game that makes it fun, then it's probably too early. You might want to start by giving out keys to select fans and getting input from a smaller and focused group of users before you post your title to Early Access. At a bare minimum, you will need a video that shows in-game gameplay of what it looks like to play the game. Even if you are asking customers for feedback on changing the gameplay, customers need something to start with in order to give informed feedback and suggestions.
- Don't launch in Early Access if you are done with development.
- If you have all your gameplay defined already and are just looking for final bug testing, then Early Access isn’t the right place for that. You’ll probably just want to send out some keys to fans or do more internal playtesting. Early Access is intended as a place where customers can have impact on the game.
- You can find these rules in the Steam Early Access documentation[partner.steamgames.com] for Steamworks developers.
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