Cashed in the remaining money I’d made from selling trading-cards to get it.
At this time Frontier’s (Elite’s developer) Elite: Dangerous doesn’t have any Steam-specific features, and like some games you’re only downloading the initial launcher through Steam. All updates appear to be through the game-specific launcher.
Because it was previously available only direct from the developer, the Elite: Dangerous players (a comedy troupe touring in your locality!) are rightfully upset that they haven’t received Steam keys for the game. People always want to consolidate their gaming libraries into one place, and a decade in it’s still surprising that some game developers don’t get it.
On the second page of the relevant forum thread, a Frontier community manager had this to say in response to a player’s request:
Hi Macro, thanks for the question. We don’t have any plans to do this at the moment, but we’ll be listening to player feedback and looking to see how much demand there is.
Just an FYI – there’s no functional difference between the Steam and our website version of the game. You can add the game to your existing Steam library. See the instructions below:
We have no plans to do so but we will of course listen to player feedback and assess demand.
Click Games > Add a non-Steam game to my library and add EDLaunch.exe, ordinarily located in C:\Program Files (x86)\Frontier\EDLaunch\ on a PC.
Cue 25 more pages of players demanding their Steam keys.
Valve provides developers as many keys as they would like for their games to be sold on the developers’ own store, so the only cost to Frontier would be in developing the infrastructure to hand out the Steam keys.