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Valve prepares Steam Family Sharing for beta

Valve prepares Steam Family Sharing for beta

Wed 11 Sep 2013 7:00pm GMT / 3:00pm EDT / 12:00pm PDT

Soon, you'll be able to share your game libraries with authorized friends and family.

Valve has announced its new Steam Family Sharing feature, which will be heading into limited beta next week. The service lets users share their game libraries with authorized friends and family members. Authorized users will have their own Steam achievements and saves when they borrow your games.

"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."

A Steam account can authorize Family Sharing on up to 10 devices at any time. The primary owner of a library will always have access to their games; if someone is borrowing a game and you start one up, they'll be prompted to purchase or quit the game.

Sadly, not every game on Steam is available for sharing: any game that requires an additional third-party key or account won't work. And users should make sure they trust whoever they share their libraries with because sharing privileges may be revoked if an authorized borrower uses a shared game for cheating or fraud.

Interested Steam account holders can register their interest in beta here and learn more about the service here.

17 Comments

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
Popular Comment
Imagine how pissed Microsoft executives are right now.... they have to be fuming.

In all seriousness this is a huge feature, and a massive step for the future of digital purchases.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Chris Murphy Community & Live Manager, Ubisoft

46 17 0.4
It's amazing how quickly Valve can move once they feel even the slightest of real competitive nudges. It makes me wonder what they could have done over the last 2+ years if they hadn't been so utterly dominant. I've got a lot of love for a lot of what they do...but it has felt like they've been slacking, just a tad, of late.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd

1,020 1,467 1.4
@ Chris Even when Valve is "slacking" they are providing excellent, consistent, reliable service. Also don't forget over the last couple years they have made mods mainstream with Workshop, crowd-sourced publishing (even if it doesn't work quite as well as it should) with Greenlight, pioneered account protection, created the first couch-driven PC gaming experience with Big Picture Mode, became a digital portal for non-gaming software, and pioneered its own source of crowd-funding in the form of Early Access paid alphas/betas.

So, I would hardly say Steam hasn't evolved in the last two year.

Posted:A year ago

#3

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
Really cool feature! Would really love to get my dad an account and set him up to play the games he likes (not many!) as currently we have to "work around" it.

I agree that MS execs and employees in the entertainment division might be a bit peeved but look at this release of info - I know almost exactly what I'm getting into (only some games support this) and it's already in moving into beta. MS was never this concrete.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,611 1,473 0.9
Looking at the fine print, it seems more restrictive than a lot would like (but also more secure - no "sharing circles" that were mooted for the XOne). But, considering it's technically against the Steam ToS to share an account/account details with someone, this is definitely a step-forward. And I'll be surprised if they don't relax the restrictions a little in the future.

Also, possible SteamBox implications - authorise the new Box to access my library, means that I don't have to constantly log-in/out from my PC just to let people play the games I bought.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 12th September 2013 7:22am

Posted:A year ago

#5

Felix Leyendecker Senior 3D Artist, Crytek

184 204 1.1
Don't pretty much all games require an external CD key if they have MP? And don't essentially all big full price titles come from major publishers that require their own service, even if they're on steam? If this amounts to sharing a few 5$ titles with friends, big whoop. They should have this with no restrictions at all.

Posted:A year ago

#6

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,611 1,473 0.9
@ Felix

Well, it depends. There might be a more concerted move towards multple keys and extra publisher clients, like UPlay, sure. But, for games which are purely Steamworks, there will be no restrictions, since it's just the Steam DRM and no extra keys. So, let's see... Rome 2, Shogun 2, CoH2, Deus Ex:HR (and, in fact, pretty much anything published by Sega and SquEnix, since they are using Steamworks and nothing else). Batman: Arkham Origins (as long as there's no SecuRom). The CoDs, I think? (not sure if they have multiplayer keys on top of single-player activation keys).

In any event, quite a few big names and big publishers are going to be a part of this, I think.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,198 1,011 0.8
Imagine how pissed Microsoft executives are right now.... they have to be fuming.
Just what I was thinking.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Gil Salvado 3D/2D Artist

34 37 1.1
It actually doesn't matter which games can be shared in the Beta or in the first years of release. This is a great feature. Competition forces innovation and just like Steam spearheaded digital sales, this feature may force everyone else to do likewise.

I am very glad, that the people at Valve are open-minded and customer-oriented enough to ignore the talk of "you can not own digital goods and therefore can not lend them"-nonsense. Maybe, we'll also be able to resell our digital goods some day. In fact, digital resale is the only way for a publisher to ensure a profit on each resale as he can track every continuous sale.

Posted:A year ago

#9

James Prendergast Research Chemist

735 432 0.6
Popular Comment
Hmm. After reading up on this feature over at Ars (a more technical article, BTW) they point out that the whole library is "off-limits" to the lender when a game is being played by the person who borrowed the game. From this page (apparently): http://store.steampowered.com/news/11436/

"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"

I hope that this is either a mistake in the explantion or is going to be modified during the beta because this really puts most useful scenarios out of the picture for "sharing". Currently the optimal solution is sticking one or more PCs in offline mode and playing the games installed on them. This just doesn't even begin to address that issue - and I'm surprised GI didn't report more accurately on this functionality (as, reading back through the article it is hinted at in the quotes).

I find it a bit laughable that this was the choice quote:
"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,"

When I'm pretty sure that lending a singular DVD, game disc, book or other physical media only locks you out of using that one item - not all items of the same type!

Posted:A year ago

#10

Sandy Lobban Founder and Creative Director, Noise Me Up

315 208 0.7
Nice. Look forward to using this. I'd like to see this go a stage further, and see a mechanism in place that ensures people can pass on online product purchases to their relatives / kids / friends when that time comes.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sandy Lobban on 12th September 2013 10:52am

Posted:A year ago

#11

Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London

228 631 2.8
I for one don't understand the point other then to go around the ToS. And I think a lot of people here seem excited for something that is not quite amazing when you read into the details.
This feature will allow you to share your library, yet you cant use it yourself while some one else is. I cant play X game while my brother plays Y game, if I do so the secondary user gets a 5 minute warning to wrap it up or buy the game for him/her self.

Essentially, me sharing my account details or this is having the exact same result apart from me not breaking a ToS line and a 5 minute boot warning.

Hopefully some of these restriction will be altered for the best. I could for example lend a full game from my library to someone, and while he or she had it I couldn't play it myself. Makes sense.

As it is it's pointless in practicality and amazing in theory since they're not breaking their own terms.

Posted:A year ago

#12

Eyal Teler Programmer

93 98 1.1
Ever since Big Picture was made available, it was clear to me that the ToS doesn't cover it. A console can't have a ToS limiting the games to one person. I thought that just the ToS would change, but this also adds a little bit more to the mix. What's still needed to make Steam more console-like is a way to change users quickly and have them all share the library automatically on the same PC. Maybe that's already done, I'll have to wait and see what the beta brings (because it seems from the description that the sharing is per device, not per account).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Eyal Teler on 12th September 2013 1:12pm

Posted:A year ago

#13

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,611 1,473 0.9
Yeah, the more I think of this, the more it seems to be related to making Big Picture better. Multiple users in a house, all sharing their libraries with one account on one device, hooked up to the TV in the living room. Buy a game through a mobile device or low-spec laptop, download to the central gaming PC in the living room, play. Add in to the mix Kids Mode, where the adults can lock children out from playing games that are PEGI rated too high, and you have a child-friendly central media and gaming hub.

It's a pretty far-reaching plan, even without the Steambox.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 12th September 2013 3:49pm

Posted:A year ago

#14

Jason Alexander Level Designer

8 6 0.8
The FAQ pretty clearly says that the owner always gets priority when it comes to playing their own library. The "moocher" is the one that would get kicked off after a few minutes if the owner starts playing.

http://store.steampowered.com/sharing

"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."

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jason Alexander on 12th September 2013 4:32pm

Posted:A year ago

#15

James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada

184 238 1.3
Very neat for Big Picture mode, but not a lot of use (YET!) for actually sharing. However, this is just a beta, and is a great step towards further progress.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Adam Jordan Community Management/Moderation

119 70 0.6
Technically you could do this for the last couple of years, I have my Steam account on two PC's, only difference I can see so far between now and then is that now you won't have to log off from one PC when someone wants to log-in on the other. Or if you are the account holder then you won't get kicked off when the lender wants to play etc.

Of course this is still a great feature to bring out but on a personal note, it should have been there as a feature for Steam already or at least when they brought out Big Picture mode. Might be possible this was sitting on the back seat to make an entrance when the console wars started back up again but hey, got to love a good conspiracy, right?

Posted:A year ago

#17

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