RetroArch Steam – Beta 1 key giveaway (Read more for details)

All keys are gone. Thanks for participating!

New beta testing keys will be available on 9/26/2020 – for the exact time check this page here.

As you probably already know, a year ago we announced that RetroArch would be releasing on Steam. We have worked hard on this for a fair while now. The process is slower than expected due to reasons beyond our control.

It’s been a lengthy process and we have had to significantly retool things to conform to Steam’s policies and guidelines, one of which is no Core Updater (just like on Google Play now).

While we wait for our release candidate build to be manually approved by Steam (which we’ve been told is a lengthy process), in the meantime we will start giving away beta testing keys. We want to gather as much feedback as possible from users so that the final experience on Steam lives up to people’s expectations.

So with that in mind, we are giving away keys for our first beta test version, Beta 1.

How do you get a Steam beta key?

Although we want everyone to be involved in this testing process, we cannot do it all at once. We will distribute the codes for a while at the link down below.

For Patreon users: We feel it’s important to express our gratitude to the people who gave their support when we fell on hard times with the hacking attack. Patreon subscribers can request their testing key by sending us a Direct Message on Patreon.


NOTE: These keys are not being sold, and as per Steam’s rules regarding crowdfunding, we are allowed to do this. We refer to the following section:

You can use the keys for crowdfunding rewards and give to your supporters. Before the game launches, you can also give your supporters beta keys if you wish, but these keys should only be owned by your supporters, and unless beta access is available for sale through Steam, these keys should not be sold elsewhere outside of a crowdfunding campaign.

Steam version details

So what’s different when using the Steam version right now vs. the regular version?

  • No core updater. You install cores through Steam Store instead. After you install RetroArch, you install the Libretro core DLCs that are available separately. We have made 10 cores available as DLC so far. They are all free and are already available on Steam.
  • All updateable assets (including shaders, overlays, etc) are pre-packaged and updated with new RetroArch builds. Basically, nothing is downloadable from our servers, everything goes through Steam.
  • No Desktop Menu.
  • Remote Play support. See next paragraph.

Remote Play support

RetroArch on Steam has full Remote Play support. This means that you will be able to play any multiplayer game online with another Steam user that also has a RetroArch beta key.

This feature is exclusive to the Steam version, and has the following advantages:
* Not dependent on RetroArch’s netplay functionality
* Because of this, it does not depend on serialization in order to work
* It apparently works very well, on par with something like Parsec and perhaps even better

NOTE: Right now, Player 2 needs to use a gamepad in order to be recognized as player 2. If Player 2 uses the keyboard instead, RetroArch will mistakenly think it’s Player 1 instead.

Which cores are available right now on Steam?

The following cores are currently available:

Buildbot and Github mostly restored – the current status and future plans

Thanks to m4xw and Xer The Squirrel, we have managed to:

  • Restore our buildbot server.
  • Restore the vandalised Github repositories.

State of the buildbot server

We have managed to restore most of the 1.9.0 stable downloads. Some files are still missing though, such as the PS2 stable and the non-RPX WiiU builds. Unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until 1.9.1 before we release another stable.

All the stable versions prior to 1.9.0 are all gone.

As far as nightlies go, these should be fully operational again for now. There are some slight omissions, like right now there is no mainline MAME core and some other cores might also be missing, but overall, most of the stuff should be back again.

The Core Installer should work again on any RetroArch build.

State of the Github organization

Most of the affected Github repositories have been restored. Unfortunately, there are some shenanigans with Github issues that were closed. For reasons unknown to us, these closed issues cannot be manually re-opened again. Unfortunately, Github hasn’t really been of any help in this department, so we don’t know what to do about this other than to simply move on and ask users to create new Github issues again for the affected repos.

No real data loss has happened and things should be back to normal on the organization.

New server

Thanks to the massive outpouring of support on our Patreon in the wake of the attack, we now have the additional resources to massively beef up our server infrastructure. We are in the process of moving to a far more powerful server that will cover both Lakka and Libretro/RetroArch. We will go into more detail on this as we move closer to retiring the current buildbot server. For now, we are paying out of pocket for both while we are in the transition phase which will undoubtedly double our monthly bill for now, but we think it will be worth it in the end to our users. We again thank our users for believing in us and giving us the stimulus boost necessary to finally do something about our underpowered infrastructure. It is massively appreciated.

What’s next?

No doubt, this attack has set us back some, and it has resulted in some weeks being lost that we could have otherwise put to good use elsewhere. Nevertheless, we believe we are on the road to recovery. We are working on a solution for the Google Play situation. We will create a separate version of RetroArch for Google Play without the Core Installer but with an alternative that is compatible with Google’s recently updated TOS. We don’t think this version will be better than the one you already know and use on Android, but you will always have the option of downloading the version w/ Core Installer support from our own website. We will not remove this version outright, it will stay existing next to the new Play Store builds.

Other than that, we don’t know yet when the next version of RetroArch releases. Ideally the new server will be ready by the time we get to it, since building new releases has been a pain on the current one and we really don’t want to go through it again. We will see. For now, we thank you all for the massive outpouring of support and for giving us the means to finally do something about our situation.

How to donate

Remember that this project exists for the benefit of our users, and that we wouldn’t keep doing this were it not for spreading the love with our users. This project exists because of your support and belief in us to keep going doing great things. If you’d like to show your support, consider donating to us. Check here in order to learn more. In addition to being able to support us on Patreon, there is now also the option to sponsor us on Github Sponsors! You can also help us out by buying some of our merch on our Teespring store!