This is Major: Valve Announces Family Sharing on Steam, Can Include Friends

Posted on September 11, 2013 2:04 PM by Rob Williams

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).

Steam Account - Library

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!

  • Kayden

    This is fantastic news.

  • JD Kane

    Amazing, really, even considering the limitations.

    At the very least, it can potentially increase game sales if only because it can be a gateway into new games you’ve never wanted to buy before. Try-before-you-buy, you know?

    • Rob Williams

      I could picture this selling many more games during a Steam sale. If someone might have borrowed a game before and beat it, they might want to revisit it… and if it’s being sold for cheap, they might pick it up. I can’t imagine this would sell many more games at full price, though I could be wrong.

      This to me is meant to be a major console killer… because it’s clear as day that this is a feature people wanted on the Xbox One before it was taken away. Now it’s going to be on Steam, and the PC as a gaming platform is looking all the more attractive.

  • Hubert J Farnsworth

    All i can say is Wow!!!! Now who wants to share with me so i don’t have to buy games any more?

  • Wing Wong

    Finally, each sibling can get the game they want and we can go head to head on each others’ games! I hope.

    • Wing Wong

      Frak! Nevermind:

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

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

      • Rob Williams

        It’s an unfortunate downside, but not too unexpected. It would have been beyond epic if someone was able to use a game on your account while you were using another… but that scenario just doesn’t seem too realistic.

  • Rawrasaur

    At first glance I thought they had finally addressed my only issue with their DRM. Nope, they can continue to piss off.

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