I think that’s how Mindustry does it. It is for sale on steam for 4,99 €, but can be obtained for free on Github and Itch.io. The Steam edition offers achievements, access to the workshop, and Steam multiplayer, though.
Do you play early access games? There’s tons of early access games that are in very rough shape on Steam.
No, I don’t play them much because I’m tired of them not being finished. I don’t want to buy something and then have to wait a few years for it to finally be good. I want it to be fun when I buy it. Whether it is categorized as early access is irrelevant to me; either it is good or it is not.
Then, a steam release of Thrive won’t be your thing for at least like 5 years… (and that’s very optimistic estimate)