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Steam Family Sharing announced by Valve, goes into beta next week

Wednesday, 11th September 2013 18:38 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Valve has announced Steam Family Sharing, a new service feature that “allows close friends and family members to share their libraries of Steam games.”

The feature will become available next week, in limited beta and will allow others to play one another’s Steam games while each earning their own Steam achievements and storing their own saves and application data to the Steam cloud.

It’s all enabled by authorizing a shared computer.

“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 Anna Sweet of Valve. “Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests.”

Here’s how it works:

Once a device is authorized, the lender’s library of Steam games becomes available for others on the machine to access, download, and play. Though simultaneous usage of an account’s library is not allowed, the lender may always access and play his games at any time. If he decides to start playing when a friend is borrowing one of his games, the friend will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing.

Below is a Q&A on it sent over by Valve.

I want to try this! How can I join the Family Sharing Beta?

To express interest in beta participation, join the Family Sharing Group on the Steam community. The Family Sharing beta will begin in about a week, when a thousand Steam accounts from this group will be granted access to share their Steam libraries. You’ll know you’ve been selected when you receive an email from Steam inviting you to try out the new feature.

How do I enable Family Sharing on my computer?

Family Sharing is enabled in one of two ways: You can either locally enable sharing in Account Settings, with Family Sharing & Devices, or remotely respond to a user’s Steam request to share your previously installed games via email.

Is there a limit to the number of devices I can authorize to share my Library?

Yes. A Steam account may authorize Family Sharing on up to 10 devices at a given time.

Can I share specific games, or do I have to share my whole library?

Libraries are shared and borrowed in their entirety.

Can all Steam games be shared with friends and family?

No, due to technical limitations, some Steam games may be unavailable for sharing. For example, titles that require an additional third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play cannot be shared among friends and family.

Can a friend and I share a library and both play at the same time?

No, a shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time.

When I authorize a device to lend my library to others, do I limit my own ability to access and play my games?

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.

Sometimes the games I’ve borrowed are unavailable for me to play. Why?

Borrowed games are only available on computers that have been authorized by the lender. A borrowed game will not be available on a computer running an OS unsupported by that game. Borrowed games may also be unavailable if the lender’s library is currently in use on another computer.

Who owns the DLC and in-game content associated with a borrowed title?

A borrower will have access to the lender’s DLC, but borrowers may not purchase DLC for a base game they don’t own. Any player may purchase, trade, earn, or otherwise acquire in-game content while playing a game, but in-game items cannot be shared between accounts. These items remain associated with the account that purchased or acquired them, whether borrowing or lending the base game.

Can region-restricted content be shared across regions?

No, any region restrictions will remain in place when borrowing or lending content.

Will I be punished for any cheating or fraud conducted by other users while playing my games?

Your Family Sharing privileges may be revoked if your library is used by borrowers to conduct cheating or fraud. We recommend you only authorize familiar computers you know to be secure.

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59 Comments

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  1. Erthazus

    Valve is going forward right now.

    Sony and MS are playing catch up. Next gen my ass.

    #1 11 months ago
  2. DSB

    Yeah, but they should really follow EAs example and implement a proper return policy. It’s long overdue.

    #2 11 months ago
  3. deathm00n

    Finally me and my brother will not have to buy the same game twice! Thanks steam.

    But mark my words, people will complain about not being able to play the games at the same time as the owner. Simply resolved if you play offline maybe?

    #3 11 months ago
  4. lookingglass

    Completely Sane PS4 Users:

    Oh Steam has family sharing? This is next gen. Steam is so awesome.

    Oh XBO will be like steam and have family sharing? OMG I HAVE TO BE ONLINE ONCE A DAY?!? DRM! MONEY, EVIL, CORPORATIONS! KINECT WANTS TO WATCH YOUR GF NEKKID AND BUST YOU FOR SMOKING POT!

    /facepalm

    #4 11 months ago
  5. TheSego

    @1
    you do realize that MS was going to do this till everyone started complaining about every little thing right?

    #5 11 months ago
  6. DSB

    @3 Never tried that, but I doubt it would work. You’d already be able to do it if that were the case.

    #6 11 months ago
  7. loci

    @5 Everyone liked the family sharing..it was all the other stuff they hated.

    #7 11 months ago
  8. deathm00n

    @6 If I have a game in my account and my brother is logged in with my account I can still play the game if I’m offline on my laptop. You can do this without any problem. But what I meant is, if he’s online with his own account acessing my games and I enter in my account offline, I can probably play the same game while he’s still online. There’s no way steam will recognize I’m in my account if I’m not on the internet.

    Edit: Saying like this it just sounds useless, as it’s possible to do it now. But with this new system the save games will be separate as well the achievments, very useful.

    #8 11 months ago
  9. Phoenixblight

    @3

    “Simply resolved if you play offline maybe?”

    Nope it will need to check with their servers to see if its accessible. They aren’t going to allow that.

    Edit: Oh if the lender goes offline that could be a possibility. I was thinking of the borrower.

    @10

    I do it all the time with the wife so she can play the games she likes while I still want to play my games.

    #9 11 months ago
  10. DSB

    @8 Seriously? You can play the same game on two computers if one is in offline mode?

    I would’ve never thought that would be possible :P

    #10 11 months ago
  11. deathm00n

    @9 I think the check will only be applied to the family account, not the owner. If it needs to check for the owner then offline mode will cease to exist. And I would be sad, I spend my free times on college playing and steam is blocked in the firewall there…

    @10 Not sure if mocking me or actually didn’t knew about this. http://bulk2.destructoid.com/ul/211262-fry-not-sure_header.jpg

    #11 11 months ago
  12. xFidelCashflow

    @4 I’m a college student & (soon to be) PS4 user, & I really wanted to love the original XB1. But I stay with my dad a lot & he has no cable, no internet, nothing. So the original probably would have self destructed in the living room or some shit lol but I wouldn’t mind picking up one now, since it doesn’t have to be connected daily.

    Can’t say i’m a fan of dropping an insane amount of money on some cutting edge (?) hardware with games & not being able to use them 80% of the time. Steam lets you go offline, & even if it didn’t its on PC so you can do waaaaaay more than use Steam on it, even without internet. You couldn’t (still can’t) really compare them…

    tl;dr: A closed console isn’t the same as an open PC

    #12 11 months ago
  13. ballz

    in4 a shitload of retards will loose their accounts this way lol

    #13 11 months ago
  14. deathm00n

    @13 “Hey 10 random friends, let’s split the price of all the games we buy on steam?”
    “Sure, doesn’t sound illegal or something.”

    #14 11 months ago
  15. Bomba Luigi

    Those bastards in my Family should buy their own Games ^^

    #15 11 months ago
  16. DSB

    @11 No no, I honestly didn’t think that would be possible in the age of braindead DRM schemes.

    That’s pretty awesome!

    Theoretically, could you play multiplayer if the game wasn’t hooked up to Steamworks?

    #16 11 months ago
  17. pcbros

    @5 – The problem is that in general, console gamers are more immature and spoiled than PC gamers.

    For example, practically any online game is full of annoying kids and people saying the dumbest things. They complain if a company decides to include a piece of hardware with the console (ex. Kinect). They complain if you can’t physically trade or lend games (DRM policy). They complain if a game includes microtransactions. They even complain if they don’t like a particular game’s ENDING (ex. Mass Effect). It’s ok to have a voice in gaming but some people abuse that voice.

    PC gamers don’t form protests because they have to upgrade their hardware to play a certain game. If your favorite game requires a new video card to play at max settings, you either buy it or you pass on the game until later. If Steam uses DRM and doesn’t allow you to somehow trade in your games at Game$top, they don’t care.

    @7 – In order for family sharing to work, you need to connect to the internet. The same game cannot be played simultaneously by two people. So for family sharing to work, you essentially need to connect to the internet once that day (hmmm… sounds familiar) and you need to buy the game online (DRM).

    So Microsoft can bring back the family sharing feature (which I know they will) but require internet. So that way people who have internet and don’t mind DRM can enjoy this feature.

    I know I’ll be using this feature on Steam day one! No more buying two copies of the same game (unless I plan to play online with friends).

    #17 11 months ago
  18. Phoenixblight

    @17

    It only make sense that you need to connect to the internet to access these type of features but locking out your entire system and the games you actually own that is a problem.

    #18 11 months ago
  19. grizzlycake

    Cool!

    #19 11 months ago
  20. silkvg247

    Erm. well.. wish I could be excited about this. It’s a step in the right direction, I guess. And I suppose it could be compared to a family sharing a book library.. if of course we could only read books on one couch in the house. And not both at the same time even with different books.

    (In other words completely bloody useless to families with 2 PCs and still a long, long way to go)

    When My gf can share my account upstairs albeit playing any other game than the one I have up, then we’re there. Until then I appreciate the gesture I suppose.

    And like I’d ever let anyone else on my PC anyway; hah!

    Seems to me this is more a PR stunt than anything.

    #20 11 months ago
  21. Phoenixblight

    @20

    What the crap? You just can’t play the same game at the same time. Everything else is available unless its a MMO, uses a 3rd party DRM or region locked. THis is great especially with significant others.

    #21 11 months ago
  22. DSB

    I think I speak for everyone when I paste this.

    #22 11 months ago
  23. Arcnail

    @ How is Steam going forward? They employ the same DRM thing Microsoft was trying to do with the Xbox One before their 180.

    Basically no sharing or no selling of games.

    Only now will Valve start allowing you to share your games.. seems pretty behind to me (although a welcome change as I do have a Steam account).

    #23 11 months ago
  24. pcbros

    18 – My point was that you need those requirements to access these kinds of features.

    @23 – Microsoft WAS going forward, until people who are techinically “challenged” complained and then they had to take a step backwards.

    I personally will choose family sharing over physically lending games any day.

    With digital lending, you can play your game anytime, no risk of disc damage and you can share games with friends outside your neighborhood.

    Btw, how is doing things that same way since the Atari 2600 going forward?

    #24 11 months ago
  25. pukem0n

    Steam forces you to be online to play a game and nobody bats an eye.

    Microsoft does the same and everybody loses their minds.

    http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3vr6ve/

    #25 11 months ago
  26. pcbros

    @25 – Exactly. It’s because of what I said in #17.

    #26 11 months ago
  27. silkvg247

    @21 Re-read the article.

    #27 11 months ago
  28. Phoenixblight

    @27

    I read it on steam’s page. I don’t see how this is a “PR stunt”.

    #28 11 months ago
  29. CyberMarco

    I still didn’t understand this.

    I suppose the borrower has to be online to play the shared library (duh!). Does the loaner have to be online too to allow his friend to play the shared library?

    #29 11 months ago
  30. silkvg247

    @28 “You just can’t play the same game at the same time. ”

    Wrong, you can’t access the same library at the same time.

    I say it’s a PR stunt because it’s no different to just letting a person go on your PC on your steam account when you aren’t using it.

    #30 11 months ago
  31. Phoenixblight

    @30

    You are completely right. I had missed that question still you just go in their library and play their games. Hopefully they will build it to be per game but I doubt it with developers and publishers.You essentially wouldn’t need to buy a game if a friend gets it if it was per game. I guess it was too good to be true.

    #31 11 months ago
  32. CyberMarco

    Hm… So e.g. I have 10 games in my library and I want to share my games with silk, I suppose we both must be online BUT when silk plays game 1 I can’t play game 2 right?

    Or another example, can I play silk’s games while she plays my games?

    #32 11 months ago
  33. Phoenixblight

    @32 yep that is exactly how it reads. You just play their games while they play yours.

    #33 11 months ago
  34. CyberMarco

    @33 But I can’t play any other different game from my shared library while silk plays a game. I can’t play game 2 (from my library) when she plays game 1 (from my library).

    #34 11 months ago
  35. Phoenixblight

    @34

    “Can a friend and I share a library and both play at the same time?
    No, a shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time.”

    #35 11 months ago
  36. CyberMarco

    “Can a friend and I share a library and both play at the same time?”
    No, a shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time.

    Does this mean that we can’t play the same game at the same time (obviously) or that I can’t play any of my games while my friend plays my shared library?

    I’m feeling stupid! :P

    #36 11 months ago
  37. Phoenixblight

    @36

    One user can access a library at a time doesn’t matter who but if the lender accesses it while the borrower is on the lender’s library, it tells them to get off.

    #37 11 months ago
  38. silkvg247

    ONE steam account can be used by ONE user on ONE machine at one time.

    Simples.

    Also frustrating for people like me that have 450+ games.. so gf wants to try one.. my whole library is locked out? Yeah.. k.

    #38 11 months ago
  39. pcbros

    Steam should clarify this point. It wouldn’t make sense that you wouldn’t be able play different games in the same library.

    I guess this scenario could work:

    – Friend A shares his library with friend B.
    – Friend B shares his library with friend A.
    – Friend A plays games on friend B’s library.
    – Friend B plays games on friend A’s library.

    #39 11 months ago
  40. pcbros

    @38 – Steam should allow users to create a shared library and include the games they want to share.

    #40 11 months ago
  41. CyberMarco

    @39

    If that is possible then it’s a hell of a feature. But if not I must be online (without playing) to let my friend play my shared library, yee-fucking-ha! -.-

    @40 Also, I didn’t understand if by “library” it means my whole catalog, or a custom made catalog?

    #41 11 months ago
  42. noamlol2

    the idea sounds nice and all

    but i still think that games are products and not licenses

    consoles got it right, you buy a game, you want to lend it to a friend
    you physicaly lend it, and he can play it offline whatsoever

    i don’t like DRM, steam is good but if i bought a SP game
    it doesn’t need DRM

    GOG got it right, you buy a game and you can do with it everything you want
    hell you can lend it to a friend and play it the same time since it’s DRM-free and it doesn’t require a CD-key for installtion or internets

    of course, i will never give anyone i know personally a game i paid for and loved

    people should go and buy their own games, cause if people are going to hog on sharing

    companies are going to stop releasing games for steam and we’ll see good games on shitty services like games for windows live

    #42 11 months ago
  43. Phoenixblight

    @38

    Then do it like me. You just put the account on another machine download the game she wants to play then go in offline mode and she can play while you have access your games. I have been doing this for years.

    @39

    Thats exactly what it is for. You play their library, they play yours.

    @42

    Games for WIndows is shutting down and you couldn’t share your games before and yet Steam is the largest platform on PC so much so MS tried to copy it for consoles.

    #43 11 months ago
  44. CyberMarco

    So to recap a bit.

    I can share my library with a friend of mine and he can share his with me.

    1) We both must be online so: I can play his games and he can play mines.

    2) When I’m offline he can still play my games and eventually I can play my games too while I’m in offline mode.

    3) I can’t play game 1 (or any other game for that matter from my shared library) while my friend plays game 2 (from my library), while both being online.

    I hope I got it now!

    #44 11 months ago
  45. Phoenixblight

    @44

    Yes for the most part except the offline bit. I am not sure if you need to be online to play shared libraries. I would assume as much.

    #45 11 months ago
  46. CyberMarco

    @45

    If you need to be online then it’s just not that much worthy I think. It would be better to log in to another PC download all your games and run Steam in offline mode then.

    #46 11 months ago
  47. Phoenixblight

    @46

    Assuming that they finally don’t plug that exploit :P

    #47 11 months ago
  48. pcbros

    This is how I believe it will work.

    - Friend A shares library with Friend B.

    - Friend B must be online to play game from shared library, Friend A does not.

    - When Friend A wants to play a game from shared library, he must be online. If Friend B is playing at the time, he will be asked to buy game or exit.

    - Now friend A can play games from shared library.

    - If Friend B wants to play a game from shared library while Friend A is playing, I’m assuming a “play request” will be sent to Friend A and he can choose to leave and allow Friend B to play or not.

    So I believe only the person that is requesting to play a game from the shared library has to be online.

    I’m assuming there will be no offline mode on shared libraries. And if Steam is smart, we will be able to create our shared library instead of forcing us to share the whole thing.

    #48 11 months ago
  49. Telepathic.Geometry

    Seems kinda balls that you can’t both be playing two different games at the same time. Having said that, as I am in a different timezone, I could probably synch up with someone in America or Europe and share games… ^_^

    #49 11 months ago
  50. TheDuckPortal

    @25 wrong. Ive used steam in offline mode plenty of times, my games work fine. Ive even lost connection during games and guess what? After a certain period of time my games would never stop working.

    Steam allows you to play games offline, it doesnt require an internet connection; whoever told you otherwise clearly doesnt know how steam works.

    #50 11 months ago
  51. Pitts

    Hm, unless you can share games selectively, count me out.

    Sounds like it’s the whole library or nothing. Not feeling that.

    @25: I guess someone hasn’t heard of Offline Mode?

    #51 11 months ago
  52. Aullah

    This idea is very dumb if you cant be online while someone plays your game. Whats the difference than just giving him your whole account for the period of time?

    #52 11 months ago
  53. viralshag

    The only difference between MS and Steam doing this is Steam has the backing of the PC user base thanks to years in the making of their infrastructure and service.

    People should have given the XB1 a chance in its original state. Their console still seems (to me at least) to have been the one really going forward with what they were trying to offer.

    #53 11 months ago
  54. CyberMarco

    @53

    Most people didn’t have any problem with the sharing features of the Xbox One, the major issue was the 24h online check regardless of sharing or not. They could easily implement the sharing features for digital games.

    #54 11 months ago
  55. viralshag

    @54, That’s true but the original idea was that everyone would have digital “cloud” games because once you bought it you wouldn’t need the disc after.

    It was the cross over with a platform that still mainly uses physical media with an ever encroaching digital future on the horizon. As I said, Steam have had some time to better their service and now the majority of PC gaming is done digitally and the decreasing use physical media isn’t really a problem.

    I think without the 24hr check in they would have been wide open for people to take advantage of that system. I think of it as being a necessary evil in some ways until the service could be bettered and improved.

    #55 11 months ago
  56. CyberMarco

    @55

    Not, it’s not the necessary evil. If Microsoft was truly intending to be the pioneer of this evolution they could easily make a win-win-win situation like this.

    No 24h online-check for physical copies at all and people would still be able to gift/share/sell their games. Create an incentive for the consumer to opt for a digital copy rather than a physical one by making the digital 5/10$ cheaper than retail plus having the ability to share your digital library with up to 10 persons and use the 24h DRM only for that.

    I can’t see why it’s that hard to do…

    #56 11 months ago
  57. TheDuckPortal

    People need to stop complaining, the feature will be added and if you dont like it you dont have to use it

    Nothing else changes, you can continue to use steam how you always have.

    #57 11 months ago
  58. CyberMarco

    After some more thought I think it’ll be something like this.

    Imagine if your Steam account is like a PS3. A friend comes to your place and logs-in to your PS3 with his credentials and plays all your digital downloaded games. That way he can have his own trophies/ multiplayer stats/ gamesaves etc.

    Now what Steam is offering is you don’t have to go to your friend’s house to play his digital games, you can simply log-in to your Steam account and with his consensus to play his digital games.

    In other words, it’s like you’ve borrowed his games and his console at the same time, that’s why the lender can’t play any game while the borrower is playing a different game.

    I hope it helped! :P

    #58 11 months ago
  59. DSB

    To my mind it’s just a cool way to let someone demo a game.

    If I’m like “Dude, Borderlands 2 is sick” and the guy is like “I don’t know…” then we’ll just link accounts, and he can try it out.

    It’s not exactly a huge gamechanger, but it’s cute.

    #59 11 months ago