The game was developed by Ubisoft Annecy, a French studio which had previously worked on the multiplayer modes of the Assassin’s Creed franchise and the Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell franchise as well as assisting in the development of Tom Clancy’s The Division. The game was co-developed by Ubisoft studios in Kiev and Montpellier. Steep would become the first original game created by them. Development of the game was started in late 2013. The concept was inspired by the developer’s close proximity to the Alps, and another Ubisoft game, Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, whose large open world forced developer Ubisoft Paris to implement transport methods such as paragliding. The Trials series also influenced the game’s design. Ubisoft originally was not convinced by the development team, but they later greenlit the project’s development, mainly due to the huge popularity of extreme sporting videos on the video sharing website YouTube. The developers were also inspired by the renewed interest in the skateboarding game Skate 3 after it was re-popularized through Let’s Play streaming events performed by Youtubers and others. According to Igor Manceau, the game’s director, the team pitched the project to Ubisoft as they believed that the game’s online structure and open world are elements that are new to the sports genre.
Manceau claimed that the game was a “passion project” and a “natural progression” for the studio, and that it was designed to be accessible for newcomers and complex for fans of the genre. The team collaborated with the action sport industry and consulted several professional skiers and extreme sports athletes and experts, such as Louis Aikins, Kevin Rolland, Sammy Luebke, and Horacio Llorens. However, one of the professional skiers, Matilda Rapaport, died while shooting a promotion video for the game in Farellones, Chile due to a sudden avalanche accident.