Valve Announces Steam Family Sharing

Valve has announced and revealed details for its latest Steam endeavour: family sharing.

Users may authorise up to 10 devices to access their Steam library. Once a device is authorised, any Steam users on that computer gain access to games in that library to download, install and play. DLC is included in this.

The chief limitation on this is that no two people may play games from the one library at the same time. This prevents the obvious application of playing co-op/multiplayer with a single purchased copy of a game, but this also applies to playing different games simultaneously. In fact, if someone is playing one of your shared games and you decide to start up any game on your account, the other user will be given a few minutes to purchase the game for their own account, or be kicked off.

Valve does point out that not all games will have sharing enabled, specifically referring to “titles that require an additional third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play”. This does open up the possibility for certain publishers or titles to have sharing restrictions for no other reason as well. They also state that library sharing can’t be used to get around region restrictions.

The idea that you can’t access two or more different games from the library at once is pretty disappointing, and it’s a little unclear as to the reasoning behind that. The system is not without its advantages and uses though, and this is definitely forward progress in the digital future. So long as your “family” is lining up their play times right this could potentially save some people quite a bit on their games budget.

Steam Family Sharing enters Beta next week. You can sign up, or just find some more information on Valve’s information page.

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