Steam is an online video game digital distribution service by video game company, Valve. The platform is currently the largest digital distribution platform for PC gaming, estimated at around 75% of the market in 2021. While it has a ton of appealing features and offers for gaming, probably the most underrated feature about Steam is its recurring payment or subscription service.
With Steam’s recurring payment and subscription service, you can easily manage and keep track of your favorite games. However, it’s also important to know how to manage your subscriptions and cancel them. If you’re looking for information on how recurring payment works or how to cancel a subscription on Steam, you’ve come to the right place.
This blog post will go over the necessary information about Steam recurring payment, as well as how to cancel a subscription if necessary. If you need assistance with recurring payments for your game or software on Steam, please get in touch with Steam support by submitting a ticket via the Steamworks category.
How Recurring In-Game Billing Works
When you create a recurring in-game payment, you’ll first need to establish a billing agreement which will then describe the payment terms. You’ll need to agree to these terms first before you can proceed to the billing process. Payments are handled in two ways:
- Steam handles 100% of the billing and payment transaction.
- The game’s own billing system initiates the payment; the system will communicate with Steam on processing the actual payment.
In both options, payment results are retrievable via a microtransaction API either by the individual user query status or by parsing the settlement report that shows all payments.
Establishing a Billing Agreement
To define the recurring billing agreement, use the Web API, ISteamMicroTxn/InitTxn. The agreement is created similarly to other in-game item sales on Steam; however, it requires additional data. Establishing the billing agreement can be done as a single sales event or in a shopping cart with other in-game items the user selected.
If Steam accepts the transaction, the system will notify the user to authorize the agreement. The API will then generate a unique 64-bit billing agreement identification code in the response. If an error is returned, the problem must be corrected and a new request submitted. Once you get the approval, use the ISteamMicroTxn/FinalizeTxn Web API to complete the agreement.
Depending on which party initiates the payment cycle, two potential types of billing agreements are created:
- Steam: Steam manages and performs all processing based on your established recurring schedule. This is suitable for instances where the recurring payment remains consistent over time. All the game billing server needs is to request the status of user payments. If applicable, time can be added to an agreement via the API to extend user credit.
- Game: The game initiates the recurring billing request via the microtransaction API. This option allows for more flexibility in the payment amount, as well as the processing time. In this case, the game’s billing server will use the API ISteamMicroTxn/ProcessAgreement to initiate payment and specify the amount. Use this for cases where you may want to adjust the payment amount over time or issue a credit.
Note that a user only has one active billing agreement per game. You can create a new billing agreement for a user at any given moment. However, all previous billing agreements will be disabled automatically upon completing a call from the ISteamMicroTxn/FinalizeTxn API. Each billing agreement is given a unique 64-bit ID for reference. However, only the most recent agreement will be allowed to process payment.
Methods For Managing Recurring Subscriptions
Steam has three general methods for managing recurring subscriptions. In addition, some additional options can work in conjunction with one or more of these methods.
Method #1: Steam Initiates and Manages Recurring Subscriptions Via the Steam Store
Steam simply checks if the user has a license to launch the app they are trying to launch.
- The user can choose which subscription to pay for; they can check out through the Steam cart.
- This package will grant the customer a license for the application, which means the app will now appear in the user’s Steam Library.
- Steam will monitor the billing period and renew the subscription at the end of the previous period.
- The Developer can extend the license any time they want by calling ISteamMicroTxn/AdjustAgreement.
- The user can update their subscription interval so that the next time Steam renews, it will be at a new level.
- Steam is aware of when the license expires; if this happens, the system will automatically revoke the user’s license.
- The user will no longer be able to launch the app through the Steam client.
- The app will also fail if it conducts a Steam ownership check.
Method #2: Initiated by the Steam Store But Managed by the Game
This option is when the game is purchased upfront or acquired for free and then needs a subscription to unlock gameplay or specific features within the game.
- The user needs to acquire a license for the game by purchasing the game upfront or installing a free-to-play game.
- The user can then select which subscription option to pay for (monthly, quarterly, yearly, etc.)
- The developer-oriented service will keep track of when their subscription expires.
- When the subscription expires, the developer-oriented Service will make an ISteamMicroTxn/ProcessAgreement call to charge for the next period.
- Based on the type of subscription the user chose when they signed up for the first time or whatever subscription period they might have switched to in the meantime, the Developer-oriented Service will add time to the user’s account.
- The user can change the terms or cancel it any time they want.
Method #3: Microtransaction—Managed Entirely In-Game
This is when the game starts a recurring billing via invoking an in-game purchase confirmed by the user through a Steam webpage. This transaction is configured and managed entirely by the game.
- The game is typically free-to-place; however, it could also work or has a standard purchasable version.
- From within the game, the user would find a purchase option to sign up for a recurring subscription. This transaction would then need configuration and management by the Developer.
- Developer-oriented service interfaces with Steam to initiate a subscription that features a renewal period and amount defined.
- The user must then approve this transaction through the Steam client.
- Service will keep track of when the user’s subscription expires.
- When the subscription expires, Service will make an ISteamMicroTxn/ProcessAgreement call to charge the next period.
- Service isn’t allowed to charge more than the agreed amount in the period. That means if the user agreed to a $20/mo subscription, they cannot charge more than that amount. However, Service can charge less.
- The user is the only one allowed to cancel this type of subscription.
How to Cancel a Subscription On Steam
At this point, you already know how to initiate recurring payments for a user on Steam. You also know how recurring billing management is done on the platform. But how do you cancel these recurring payments?
There will come a time when a user no longer wants to make recurring payments, or you, as the Developer, want to stop billing the user. In either case, you need to cancel the recurring payments. Canceling recurring payments is easy and can be done in a few steps:
Step 1: Go to https://store.steampowered.com/account/.
- You can Access Steam through any web browser of your choice. Note that if you cancel your subscription halfway through a billing period, you will not receive a refund for the other half. However, you will still have access to the content until the end of that billing period. For example, if you subscribed to a monthly plan for a particular game on June 1, canceling the plan on the 15th will not give you half of your money back. Instead, it will remain active until July 1 and cancel before it is set to renew.
Step 2: Login your account.
- Signing in will direct you to the Steam Account Page.
Step 3: Click ‘Manage Subscriptions.’
- It’s on the right-hand side of the “Store & Purchase History” box. All of your active subscriptions are displayed here.
Step 4: Click ‘Cancel.’
- Doing so will cancel the subscription.
That’s it! You have now successfully canceled recurring payment on Steam. Remember, you can always Steam Support us if you need any help along the way.
How Does ReliaBills Relate to Steam Recurring Billing
Recurring payment in steam relates greatly to ReliaBills and its recurring billing feature. For one, setting up can be tedious, as evident in the process we just went through. Recurring billing can be difficult to manage on your own, and that’s where we come in.
For businesses looking to take advantage of the benefits that recurring billing brings to the table, ReliaBills is the solution you’ve been looking for. Recurring billing can be a headache, but with ReliaBills, it’s easy and straightforward. We’ll handle the majority of the work so that you can focus on what’s important: your business.
Unlike Steam, Reliabills recurring billing isn’t complicated to set up. The instructions are clear and available on our website, and you can always seek help from our active customer support.
Once you set up recurring billing on ReliaBills, you can rest assured that it’ll be managed and taken care of. We’ll make sure of that.
Additionally, our recurring billing feature is available for all businesses – whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, we can work with you. Remember to subscribe to ReliaBills PLUS (our premium version) to access even more features for your recurring billing system.
Steam and other online gaming platforms have introduced a new way to play and enjoy games—through recurring payments. This type of billing has its pros and cons, but overall it’s a great way to support your favorite developers and enjoy content on a regular basis. Just remember to cancel your subscription if you no longer want to make recurring payments.