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Steam Family Sharing beta arrives next week

by Mark Tyson on 12 September 2013, 10:15

Tags: Valve, PC

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Valve is to add a new sharing service to Steam which will allow users to share their Steam library with up to 10 other devices owned by “close friends and family members”. The ‘Steam Family Sharing’ functionality will be available for the first time starting next week with a beta release of the Steam software.

The new Steam Family Sharing is described by Valve like this; “Steam Family Sharing allows close friends and family members to play one another's games while earning their own Steam achievements and saving their own game progress to the Steam cloud. It's all enabled by authorizing a shared computer.” The facility works when one your family members or “close friends” sees a game in your library but not in theirs, which they would like to play. With the new Family Sharing functionality you will receive a request for authorisation and then your full library of Steam games and DLC becomes available for them to access, download and play.

Polygon got a quote, from Valve’s Anna Sweet, about the impetus behind the new sharing functionality. She said that Steam customers wanted to be able to share their digital content with family and friends, just like they can share physical retail games, books and DVDs. “Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests,” explained Sweet.

An important thing to consider when a game is shared is that it cannot be played by you and a friend simultaneously. The lender remains in priority control - if the lender logs on and selects a game that is being played by a friend the friend will be given a few minutes to finish up and quit playing and then given the option to buy the game.

Valve notes that some games in a user’s Steam library might not be available to share “due to technical limitations”. Also this is not a way to circumvent any regional restrictions, so you won’t be able to lend out your UK version of Saint’s Row IV to an Australian cobber. Valve has compiled a FAQ on the Family Sharing information page, just scroll down a page here.

HEXUS Forums :: 54 Comments

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This is a good feature, and the no playing at the same time makes it a good analogue for the physical medium lending mechanism (without all that walking hassle).

I hope this doesn't lead to higher prices, as being able to borrow a game will surely mean fewer game purchases?
Regional restrictions are ridiculous but I'd rather have this compromise than not be able to share at all.
Great news. Now I can let my brother access my steam library without having to worry about being locked out of my account.
Apart from being more secure there is no different between this family share and just giving your family / friends the login details to your steam account, in fact its not as open as its only certain games.

I'll be interested once you can ‘lend’ out any game in your library to someone else, it becomes unplayable for you until you claim it back or they are finished and give it back.
How frustrating, I've only just bought a second copy of Skyrim, now my stepson and I could've shared the one we already had *sigh*

Good idea from Steam though - we've got three Steam users in the house and this will benefit all of us.