Steam Keys are single-use, unique, alphanumeric codes that customers can activate on Steam to add a product license to their account. Steam Keys are a free service we provide to developers as a convenient tool to help you sell your game on other stores and at retail, or provide for free for beta testers or press/influencers. Steam keys are a free service, so we ask you to use good judgment and follow basic guidelines and rules around requesting and selling them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0tRQgNiQMo
Types of Keys
You can request three types of Steam Keys: Default Release, Release State Override, and dev comp. Steam keys are always requested from a specific Steam package.
- Default Release (or standard release)
This is the most common type of key on Steam, which is usually tied to a Steam store or retail Steam Key package. These keys are appropriate for retail boxes or sales on other digital stores. Customers can activate this type of Steam Key at any time, but the product will unlock only after it has been released on Steam. Games and applications launching on Steam may receive up to 5,000 Default Release Steam Keys to support retail activities and distribution on other stores. After that, all Steam Key requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. There is no guarantee that you will be provided additional keys.
- Release State Override (or beta package keys)
These keys are used to grant access to a product prior to its release on Steam. Release State Override keys are intended for small beta tests and press/influencer access. We will look at each request on a case-by-case basis, but Release State Override (beta) keys are generally limited to 2,500 total. It is never OK to sell Release-State Override keys. If you’d like to run a large scale playtest to provide more than a few thousand keys to allow play before your game launches, you should use the Steam Playtest feature. You can learn more about that here.
NOTE: Release State Override keys should never be sold to customers.
- Developer Autogrant (or devcomp)
These keys are intended for developer use only. They are used to provide developers with access to the product if their Steam account is NOT already in your Steamworks partner group. You should need only a small number of these keys, and likely won’t need any at all. These keys are not intended to be used for basic testing—if you need keys to test your game, request Release State Override Steam Keys or keys for your Steam Playtest.
NOTE: Dev Comp keys should never be distributed to customers.
Special-Use Steam Keys
Steam Keys cannot be generated for the following product types on Steam:
Games that are Free-to-Play, or that are free to download on Steam, cannot request Steam Keys by default. If you need Steam Keys for your free product, please submit a ticket.
Steam keys cannot be generated for Steam bundles. You will need to generate keys for the individual apps in the bundle.
Steam Key Rules and Guidelines
- You should use Steam Keys to sell your game on other stores in a similar way to how you sell your game on Steam. It is important that you don’t give Steam customers a worse deal than Steam Key purchasers.
- You can request Steam Keys only for content that is available for purchase or download on Steam. This includes games, demos, and DLC.
- For example, it is not OK to use Steam Keys to distribute a demo that is not also available for users to download on Steam.
- The only exception is requesting Release State Override keys for limited beta testing or distributing cosmetic-only DLC to crowdfunding backers. If you have any questions, please reach out to us and submit a ticket.
- Steam Keys shouldn't be given away for free if you aren't also offering the same deal (i.e., give the game away for free) to Steam customers. This includes giveaways for promotional purposes, unless that giveaway is very small (under 100 Steam Keys).
- If you want to run a giveaway on Steam, please reach out to us and submit a ticket.
- It's OK to run a discount for Steam Keys on different stores at different times as long as you plan to give a comparable offer to Steam customers within a reasonable amount of time.
- If you request an extreme number of keys and you are not offering Steam customers a comparable deal, or if your sole business is selling Steam Keys and not offering value to Steam customers, your request may be denied and you may lose the privilege to request keys.
When reviewing Steam Key requests, some of the things we typically look at include the level of customer interest on Steam, the total number of keys that have been issued and activated for the game and the additional number that are being requested. A request will usually be rejected if there's an imbalance that suggests the developer is not making an offer to Steam customers that is comparable to what Steam Key purchasers are offered. For instance, a game with a few hundred units of lifetime sales requesting tens of thousands of keys, or more.Please note: your commitment to a deal to sell or distribute Steam Keys before you have received keys or approval does not obligate Valve to provide keys. We’re always happy to review your request for Steam keys in advance if it would be helpful—just reach out by submitting a support ticket.
Valve reserves the right to reject Steam Key requests.
Steam Key Stats
You can see an overview of your application's Steam key history by going to your app landing page and selecting "Request Steam Product Keys". In the Key Stats section, you can view the total activated and unactivated keys from all packages that include your app, as well as the number of keys revoked using the "Ban or Disable Steam Keys" tool.
Steam Keys for Crowdfunding
Steam Keys can be used to fulfill crowdfunding rewards and grant backers access to your product. If you are considering offering Steam Keys as a reward for your crowdfunding campaign, please carefully review the following guidelines.
- Steam Keys can only be promoted as a reward only for products that have already confirmed Steam distribution. This means you need to be onboarded as a Steamworks partner and have an App credit or App ID for the product. It’s not OK to use the Valve or Steam logos to market a product that is not currently under Steam Distribution Agreement.
- Release State Override Steam Keys and Alpha/Beta Access for Backers: It’s OK to request a relatively small number of Release State Override keys that allow early, pre-release access to your game on Steam—these keys can be used to fulfill your most passionate crowdfunding supporters so that they can help test your game ahead of launch. However, the maximum number of Release State Override (beta) keys you can request for this purpose is generally 2,500 total. You should not promise more than 2,500 Release State Override (beta) keys for your game during your crowdfunding campaign.
- Crowdfunding campaigns should be time-limited.
- You can always request Default Release keys to fulfill any remaining backer rewards—these keys allow access to the game once it is released on Steam.
- Do you need to run a bigger playtest for your game for crowdfunding backers? Consider using the Steam Playtest feature. You can request keys for your Steam Playtest app and distribute those to your backers. Please keep in mind that it’s never OK to sell Steam Playtest Steam Keys directly to customers.
STEAM KEYS – HOW TOs
To request keys, click the "Request Steam Product Keys" button on your application's landing page in Steamworks and follow the steps. If you do not see that button, your account does not have the “Generate Steam Keys” permission. You can read more about permissions here
Once processed, keys can be retrieved by clicking "Request Steam Product Keys" on your application's landing page in Steamworks. Keys are available for download as a zip file which contains a plain text file. Keys are only available for download by the user that requested them.
It’s very important to tag your keys correctly so that you can keep track of them in the future. For example, if you are requesting a batch of keys to be sold at retail in France, you can choose the France tag. It’s a valuable accountability measure for you to keep track of your product’s sales on other storefronts.
If you need to look up a product key, you may do so from the Query Steam Key
page. Please note that you can query only a single key at a time. Only accounts which have "Generate Steam Keys" permission may query a key. Additionally, you may only look up a product key from a batch of keys that you requested, or if the package you requested keys against contains appIDs that you have Steam Key permissions on. If you attempt to look up a Steam Key that you don't have permissions on, or if the Steam Key is incorrect, you'll just receive an error that the key is invalid.
There are some situations when you may find the need to ban a Steam Key or batch of Steam Keys. You can read more about those reasons on the Ban Steam Keys page, but some of the most common situations include proactively disabling unused keys, revoking access to closed beta users, and revoking Keys that have been refunded.
If you need to ban product keys, that can be done from the Ban or Disable Steam Keys
Similar to querying a key, you may only ban a product key that you have the rights to. In the second step of the process, you can pick whether you wish to ban all keys in the batch, or just keys that have not yet been activated.Please be very careful when banning product keys, as you could be removing access from legitimate customers.
You may ban keys to revoke access from legitimate users (for example, the end of a beta) or to revoke keys that have been stolen or purchased fraudulently.
If you have a lot of keys to ban, you may want to break them up into groups of 10K per text file. The Ban Steam Keys page will process larger batches, however, it may time-out giving an error when the keys were indeed banned.
Helpful Advice on Steam Keys
- Request keys in small batches.
Think carefully about how many keys you need. Even if your retail partner requests a large number of keys, you may want to provide a smaller number of keys and request more if necessary. Only provide as many keys to third party distributors as they will reasonably need. If you or any of your distributors make a mistake or something happens with those keys, you'll be in better shape if you don't have to worry about a large number of stolen keys. In general, you should treat keys like cash.
- Be cautious with your Steam keys.
We've heard many reports of fraudsters impersonating journalists or storefronts to acquire keys, and then reselling those keys for profit.
If you offer your product for pre-purchase outside of Steam, and that pre-purchase grants the user a Steam product key, those keys should unlock your product at the same time it is made available for purchase via Steam. You should also not give Steam customers a worse deal than Steam Key purchasers.
- Beta Testing
Keys are a great way to let players into your game early for testing or closed alpha/beta access. But note that if a player has your game on their wishlist when they activate one of these keys, it will remove your game from their wishlist. If you plan to run a larger beta that requires more than a few thousand Release State Override keys, you'll need to use the Steam Playtest feature. You can learn more about this feature here.
- Steam Keys and Branding Requirements
If you are requesting Steam Keys to distribute or sell your game outside of Steam, you will need to follow these branding guidelines.
If your game is an Early Access title, you will need to include the materials specified in the Steam Early Access Branding Requirements.
FAQQ: How many Steam Keys can I get for my game?
A:Games and applications launching on Steam may receive up to 5,000 Default Release Steam Keys to support retail activities and distribution on other stores. After that, all Steam Key requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
Release State Override (beta) keys are generally limited to 2,500 total.
Q: Why was my key request denied?
- If you’d like to run a larger-scale beta test ahead of your game’s launch, please use the Steam Playtest feature. You can request Steam Keys for your playtest app.
A: When reviewing Steam Key requests, we typically look at the level of customer interest on Steam, the total number of keys that have been issued and activated for the game and the additional number that are being requested. A request will usually get rejected if there's an imbalance that suggests the developer is not making an offer to Steam customers that is comparable to what Steam Key purchasers are offered.
It may also have been denied because the request was for Release State Override keys, which make the content immediately playable upon activation. In general, Release State Override (beta) keys are limited to 2,500 total. Q: Will my Release State Override keys expire when the app is released?
A: No, keys don't expire automatically. Any players who activated a beta key before the game released will keep the game. If you need to revoke access after a closed beta, please read the Banning Keys