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Ah, you're right. It used to let you play if steam was opened, even if you weren't logged in (ie.. sitting on the log-in popup) . But I tried that and it doesn't work now.  Shame, I don't really want the DRM stuff, just to use steam's matchmaking features when available.   I probably won't do a non-steam build for now though, just because I want to keep it clear which is the paid version.