Publisher Chucklefish first announced the new feature in August 2017. At the time, it expected to start the beta test at the end of the year, then release a patch in early 2018. Obviously, getting multiplayer up and running is taking longer than expected, but after several months of internal testing and quality assurance, Chucklefish said it’s decided to open the beta up to a wider audience.
— Tom Coxon (@tccoxon) April 30, 2018
“After donating a bundle of ethernet cables to the junimo sprites, I recompiled the game with the ‘add multiplayer’ checkbox on. I missed some of the forage items in the first year, so it took two years,” developer Tom Coxon joked in a blog post.
Coxon added the multiplayer beta does contain some new single-player content as well. Chucklefish will share more details about that at a later date.
Right now, the beta is only available to Steam users, with GOG users also getting access in a few days. Anyone who wants to participate in the Steam beta needs to opt in by right-clicking the game in their library and selecting “Properties,” then “Betas.” Type the password “jumpingjunimos” into the text box, then click “Check Code.” If you’ve done that correctly, you can select the “beta” option from the drop-down box and Steam will start downloading the update. But, Chucklefish points out that it is a beta, and “Stardew Valley” players might want to backup their save files and remove incompatible mods before installing the update or risk losing their farms.
There’s still no word yet on when multiplayer will officially go live. Console versions of the game are getting the patch as well, starting with Nintendo Switch, but Chucklefish said it will take awhile to roll it out to each platform.