There is a "Starmade (Demo)" on steam, which is actually the full game.
Or just download it from our site, and install it via the launcher.
The only thing you really need is:
If you want to play multiplayer servers, you need an account on our registry. (But they are free as well!)
Currently the benefit of upgrading your account is only virtual:
As we do not have a single limitation on the Demo or the use of the game.
Upgrading Starmade ensures that you will always have access to the full game and will never have to pay for it again no matter what platform you wish to play it on. The game will eventually reach the point in it's development where the Schine team believes Starmade represents a full product instead of a work-in-progress.
At that point Starmade is planned to lose it's free-to-play aspect and while you can still access the previous versions of the game for free,
you won't be able to use future versions without an upgraded account.
The price for Starmade has continued to steadily rise to match the costs of hosting an increasingly trafficked and complex website and a larger, more prosperous company. A long time ago, the price for the game was just 1$. Then it raised to 3$, then 6$, then 10$, 15$, and just recently it became 19$.
Don't feel forced to pay, that's why the game is currently free-to-play and the only thing that upgrading your account does right now is show that you've upgraded.
So its mostly a personal decision, we do not yet feel Starmade is stable enough to demand money for it, and thus we do not put any limitation on the usage
but at some point we will, and that is a fact.