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Steam Family Sharing allows close friends and family members to play one another's games while earning their own Steam achievements and saving their own game progress to the Steam cloud. It's all enabled by authorizing a shared computer.

Coming in mid-September, you will be able to share your Steam library on up to 10 devices. Friends and family can borrow your games when you aren't playing them. Of course, there are some restrictions. Some games require a separate activation to a third-party service, etc. But still, this is amazing news and solves a lot of issues with the digital games model.

This is awesome, but before your hopes get too high, let me point one thing out: As it's worded, it seems you share your library, not individual games. If someone is playing your copy of Secret of the Magic Crystals, you can't play your copy of Skyrim.

More info: http://store.steampowered.com/sharing
The press release: http://store.steampowered.com/news/11436/
Join the group: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/familysharing

jdodson   Admin wrote on 09/11/2013 at 06:45pm

This is awesome. Many of my gripes about going digital with Steam have now been addressed. DRM but with sharing in your friends and family network? Incredible.

hardeyez wrote on 09/12/2013 at 07:32pm

Hopefully it's more of a per game lock... As I currently do "family sharing" with my kids this way... just by allowing them to sign in as me to use the games they want to play. Although, I end up buying 3 copies of a lot of things for multiplayer (i.e. minecraft, terraria, torchlight 2, etc)

beansmyname   Supporter wrote on 09/12/2013 at 10:39pm

This new feature is not really new. It's just a repackaging of what @hardeyez and many others are already doing. The key difference here is that your credentials don't have to be entered in another user account or even on a remote machine.

Sadly, this doesn't parallel the ability of being able to loan games to a friend or family member. Understandably so. Somewhere in the decision-making for adding/revamping this feature is revenue generation. If players can share a title at a time, there's less incentive for the recipient to purchase a copy for themselves. Perhaps implementing something similar to the PlayStation Store's 60-minute trials would be a viable option.

The timing is right to make this announcement, though. With the XBox One and the PS4 launches right around the corner, Valve is wise to address some of the concerns that gamers have brought up to the current console manufacturers about digital distribution and DRM before the arrival of the Steam console.

I am curious to see how this feature develops, if at all, over the course of the next few months in the beta. If anyone gets in, please be sure to keep the rest of us posted.

jdodson   Admin wrote on 09/13/2013 at 02:26am

@beansmyname, good point. If you singly loan a game it does lower the incentive for someone else to buy it. But that happens now with console games and movies I loan out too. Or library stuff. That said, perhaps a time lock or something would be nicer for sure.

That said, borrowing the entire person's library to play a game is still better than nothing and I look forward to checking this out.

I really hadn't considered sharing a password with people to share my library though but apparently it is a pretty normal thing to do and Valve is just making that simpler for everyone. Which is the way to do it, notice how your users use your thing and make it simpler for them.

beansmyname   Supporter wrote on 09/13/2013 at 03:06am

You don't necessarily have to share your password. You could log in via TeamViewer or something similar and log in remotely, never providing your credentials to the other party. Saving them would then prevent them from knowing your credentials.

One area where this is better, though, is that the player sharing the library can't make purchases on your behalf. That is a marked improvement over the current system.

I guess the real question I mean to be asking is this:
Would you really step aside from your library of games long enough to let someone else play?

Would you let them play all three Mass Effects in one run-through? Would you let them take your library for three days?

I'll be perfectly honest: Nope! Not going to happen.

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/13/2013 at 03:45am

"Would you let them play all three Mass Effects in one run-through? Would you let them take your library for three days?"

No way. BUT I could totally let Jon play something for two or three hours a night, since we're in different time zones, or if I have a game that my brother-in-law is interested in trying out, I can let him play it for an hour here and there to see if he wants to buy it.

That's one major strength here. If a publisher doesn't provide a demo, you can still legitimately try the game before buying it (as long as you have a friend who has the game).

beansmyname   Supporter wrote on 09/13/2013 at 03:54am

Timed trials ala the PS3 would still provide that benefit, too. Using Steam's already existent DRM structure would probably make that easily enforceable.

I don't deny that this is a feature that many will find use for. I just think the hype is overpowering the reality at the moment.

Also, from what I gather, Jon could just do a remote session via Hangouts or something similar and share said game, too. :)

Travis   Admin   Post Author wrote on 09/13/2013 at 03:58am

Well, only if the game is something like FTL, where there's no twitch gaming, but yeah :)

I think the hype is higher right now than it should be because people think they can borrow games still. I'm bummed that you can't, but... it's better than nothing!

jdodson   Admin wrote on 09/13/2013 at 05:56pm

Travis: "No way. BUT I could totally let Jon play something for two or three hours a night, since we're in different time zones, or if I have a game that my brother-in-law is interested in trying out, I can let him play it for an hour here and there to see if he wants to buy it."

Totally, in fact that's how I think about using this. Plus, I don't use my Steam catalog all day every day. Plenty of time even during normal "gaming hours" when people could play a game on my account.

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