Valve has today announced its next attempt at a console-killer with “Family Sharing”, a feature that will allow you to share your Steam library with family, and close friends. This almost seems too good to be true, and while there are caveats, this is going to be huge, and Valve knows it.
With Family Sharing, you’ll be able to authorize up to 10 devices at any given time; this could be PCs in your house, or remote PCs. When an account is authorized, a friend or family member will be able to log into their accounts, play your games, earn their own achievements, and save their own games. The main caveat is that the library cannot be used by more than one person at the same time – something that’s kind of expected (you could certainly play each other’s at the same time).
Here are a couple of key points from the F.A.Q.:
- 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.
Some other limitations are no doubt obvious: A friend cannot purchase DLC for your game; Region-restricted content won’t be available in unsupported regions; Your borrowers can affect your standing with Steam – if they’re caught cheating or causing fraud, you can lose your Family Sharing abilities entirely.
Own a lot of games? Prepare to become inundated with Family Sharing requests!
Family Sharing is set to launch next week as a limited beta; if you want in, you can express interest at the official Family Sharing group over in the Steam Community. You’ll receive an email if you happen to be chosen – so good luck!