Elite: Dangerous, the wildly popular space combat simulator, has surprised us all today by suddenly appearing on Steam. The game has been, and will continue to be, available from EliteDangerous.com, but now this opens up the option to purchase the game from one of the most reputable digital distribution platforms out there. While it may be seen as just be another storefront to some, there are notable differences between the Steam version and Frontier’s Elite Dangerous shop option.
You need not worry about a “functional difference” between the two, as stated by Frontier, but here’s what is different. Beta versions of Elite: Dangerous cannot be accessed through a Steam copy. That privilege is reserved for “early access customers who helped to crowd-fund the game” and will remain as an exclusive to that group of people. Beta access can no longer be purchased from Frontier’s shop either, meaning this feature is likely to stay exclusive to those that whipped out there wallets early on. Furthermore, all DLC will still need to be purchased from the Elite Dangerous website, as it seems there is no current plans to make it accessible through the game’s Steam page.
That being said, there are a couple added options to take notice of before making your decision regarding which copy to purchase. Elite: Dangerous can be updated automatically from Steam instead of the launcher, a small but welcome feature that we all utilize with our current libraries. Also, those that opt in for the Steam version will be treated to a free copy of the Mac version upon its release.
The team behind Elite: Dangerous wants to make sure that their early buyers are taken care of and because of sizable community outcry almost immediately, they are debating on if it will be feasible to distribute Steam keys to current owners. For now, instructions are given on how to add Elite: Dangerous to your library as a non-Steam game. If you’re unsure on how to do that, you can read instructions from Executive Producer Michael Brookes here.
If you’re still on the fence about the two copies, here’s one last bit of info for you. While it is not set in stone, the developer is looking into adding Steam Achievements and Trading Cards to the Steam variant, if you find either at all enticing. The $59.99 choice is yours.