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Steam Announces Family Sharing Service

Author:
Jonathan Lester
Category:
News
Tags:
Family Sharing, PC games, Steam, Valve

Steam Announces Family Sharing Service

Microsoft's Family Sharing scheme may have fallen by the wayside for now, but Valve have picked it up and are going in heavy. Steam will soon allow you to share your games library with ten other devices and their users, starting next week in a limited beta.

Once you've designated a PC or Mac as an authorised device for your account, "close friends and family members" can access your entire games library with their own Steam accounts, allowing them to create their own cloud saves and earning their own achievements.

"Our customers have expressed a desire to share their digital games among friends and family members, just as current retail games, books, DVDs, and other physical media can be shared," explained Valve representative Anna Sweet. "Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests."

There are a few major caveats. Multiple users can't access the same library simultaneously, and the lender always has priority. UPDATE: "A shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time," Valve elaborates. "As the lender, you may always access and play your games at any time. If you decide to start playing when a friend is already playing one of your games, he/she will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing."

"Borrowed games will be unavailable on even an authorized device when the lender's library is currently in use on another computer," the FAQ continues. There'll also be a few game-specific exceptions, such as games with third-party subscription keys.

It's tempting to suggest that Valve's 'Steam Box' will offer the same functionality when it finally breaks cover, and this is perhaps a neat way to test the system while giving PC users let another perk (and letting their families play some of their backlog that would just go unplayed otherwise!).

You can get in on the beta or browse the FAQ here.

Add a comment9 comments
Tsung  Sep. 12, 2013 at 09:16

This is excellent news, now lets see if the games developers embrace it or do their best to block it.:)

davidpanik  Sep. 12, 2013 at 10:19

Sounds AWESOME.

chieftex  Sep. 12, 2013 at 11:51

I wasn't expecting anything like this. Surely this is excellent?

Tsung  Sep. 12, 2013 at 13:21

Right, reading another article it doesn't sound that great. I can share my games with my "friends/family" so long as I am not in Steam myself. That's how it reads, as soon as I log into steam they will not be able to play any games in my shared library.

Thats a shame, it has a limited appeal. Handy for parents to setup a "master" steam account and share the library with their children (the master account could have payment details added). I cannot see other situations where it would be much use.

But if I'm in steam playing game A, a friend/family member cannot be playing game B at the same time. Nor will they be able to play Game B whilst I'm in steam but not playing any games (or just using the software stuff).

Boo!, ok it might be speculation but I hope I'm not right about this.. :/

JonLester  Sep. 12, 2013 at 14:32

UPDATE: As Tsung points out, only one user can access the entire library at any one time - as opposed to a specific game. Valve have clarified this position, and I've made it clearer in the post.

Shame, but there it is. :\

chieftex  Sep. 12, 2013 at 14:35

as soon as I log into steam they will not be able to play any games in my shared library.



That's not how I read it on the steam page itself. It says "If you decide to start playing when a friend is already playing one of your games, he/she will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing."

I interpret that to mean you can log in to steam and behave as normal, but it's only when you start to play a game that this 10 minute thing kicks in. Who knows?

Korma  Sep. 12, 2013 at 15:21


Thats a shame, it has a limited appeal. Handy for parents to setup a "master" steam account and share the library with their children (the master account could have payment details added). I cannot see other situations where it would be much use.



Can they earn trading cards while playing borrowed games? If so the market value will plummet as people set up 20 friends accounts to harvest the cards for their main account. I'm sure Steam will cover that eventuality though, having brand new games might be a bit much for developers. If you are signed in to another Library does that mean your Library is inaccessible, so you can't just swap for a weekend or something?

Put your steam-keys in a bowl and see what you get ;)

Late  Sep. 12, 2013 at 15:25

It's a nice move, meaning you can try your friends' games when they're not gaming. Beats the current set up.

Would've been so much better if you could try your friends' games when they're not playing that particular game, of course, but we can't really moan that the thing we're being given for free isn't as much as we'd like in an ideal world. (Scratch that - in the ideal world we'd be able to try the game while our friends are playing it. Or just add it all to our library for free... ;) )

chieftex  Sep. 12, 2013 at 16:42


Would've been so much better if you could try your friends' games when they're not playing that particular game


That would be great, but then we could all share a steam account, and if we had 10 games, 10 people could each play a game each! I can't see that happening :)

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