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Steam Introduces Family Sharing

Share your Steam library with up to 10 friends. This could be big.

Just in time for Steam’s 10th anniversary, Valve has announced a program with potentially huge ramifications down the digital road: family sharing.

The basic idea is that it’ll soon be possible to authorize your library to be shared with up to 10 other people. You cannot just share a single game but the whole library. Let’s say you authorize your brother. If your brother wants to play Papers, Please through your shared account but you’re down for some Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 at the same time, he’s kicked off and told he has to purchase Papers, Please on his own account. If you’re not playing, though, he can keep going.

This takes some obvious idea off the table pretty quickly. You cannot purchase one copy of a co-op game and play through it with a friend.

The big question: does this require people to be playing on the same PC? The above example makes that seem obvious, but strangers things have happened. The FAQ for family sharing mentions that it’s possible to authorize “up to 10 devices at a given time,” which would suggest one PC could act as a host library for 10 other computers. I’ve asked Valve for clarification on this, since it has the broadest ramifications for this.

It’s also currently unclear how this would impact Steam’s offline mode, or if developers would have the option of opting-out of participation.

As it stands, Valve is already saying not every game can be a part of this. Games that require “third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play cannot be shared between accounts.”

You will, however, be able to access downloadable content already purchased for a game.

The idea of sharing your digital games became a topic of conversation earlier this year, as Microsoft flirted with the idea for Xbox One. As a result of its massive turnaround on DRM policies, however, these potentially progressive and interesting ideas were kicked down the road.

Family sharing will enter into beta next week, with 1,000 users on Steam gaining access.

More information is available on Valve's official page, which also includes a detailed FAQ.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
178 Comments
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Edited by OllyOxenFree

Sharing is caring!

Posted by BasketSnake

Splitting is fitting!

Posted by jimmyfenix

Oh i want to see Microsofts reaction.

Posted by JoeyRavn

Guys. PC gaming is pretty cool.

Edited by katelyngadd

The fact that it locks you out of ALL the games on your account makes it a pretty useless feature. I don't understand why they buried that detail in the FAQ instead of making it obvious: That is, this is basically just Valve finally adding a form of multiple sign in, so you can have your games accessible from multiple machines without them getting signed out, and nothing more. It barely addresses any of the use cases addressed by say, the family sharing mechanics Microsoft was promising for XBox One.

I'm not even sure why it has to work this way. I can understand some games not supporting this because publishers got antsy, but it's insane that I still have 100+ games on my account I've paid for, but I can only play them on one machine at a time, no matter what, because I get locked out of my steam account on other machines. My friends who want to play games while their husbands/wives play other games have to buy two copies or buy games outside of steam or use offline mode. It's nuts.

Posted by danielheard

All the Giant Bomb crew just got emails from long lost "family".

Posted by Paraptorkeet

Valve turns to Microsoft, middle fingers go up, everyone cheers.

Posted by Cybexx

Games that require “third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play cannot be shared between accounts.”

So this mean a lot of Ubisoft stuff for example is no go because a lot of their older stuff has straight up CD keys for the bad DRM they were using and their new stuff has UPlay accounts and CD Keys.

Posted by AyKay_47

The only reason I bought Saints Row IV (and a lot of other titles) on the 360 was so that my brother and I could both play it without having to carefully fuck around with save files. If Valve really does this, there should never be another reason to buy the console version of a game available on PC. Can't wait.

Edited by Yesiamaduck


@katelyngadd

Maybe useless if you're the sort of person that plays games all the time, but I can allow my friend to play some single player games when I am at work or not about a vise versa without him needing my log in details

Edited by BeachThunder

"strangers things have happened."

Posted by katelyngadd

@katelyngadd

Maybe useless if you're the sort of person that plays games all the time, but I can allow my friend to play some single player games when I am at work or not about a vise versa without him needing my log in details

True enough, but as you mention that's possible already if you give him your steam credentials. That's why I say this is basically just multiple sign in. It doesn't really enable any new use scenarios, it just makes one or two slightly better.

Edited by Residentrevil2

I really hope this come back on Xbox One, but with two players allowed at the same time.

Posted by TowerSixteen

Why is this cool? If only one person can be playing through your library at the same time, this isn't any different from just letting them log into your account and playing. I suppose since you don't have to share your password, it's more secure, but I have a hard time seeing how this is a "big thing". This seems more like really good marketing- label an utterly mundane new feature with a name that calls to mind one of the better parts of Microsoft's dropped policies, reap the publicity, and hope people don't pay attention to the very key differences.

Edited by jimmyfenix

@danielheard: Didn't you know i am Alex Navarro`s Long lost Nephew?

Posted by katelyngadd

@aykay_47 said:

The only reason I bought Saints Row IV (and a lot of other titles) on the 360 was so that my brother and I could both play it without having to carefully fuck around with save files. If Valve really does this, there should never be another reason to buy the console version of a game available on PC. Can't wait.

Hm, can't you already do that with multiple user accounts on your PC? Or does Steam break that with their dedicated cloud save system and custom save management? All the PC games I've played in recent memory store their saves in my AppData or Documents folders, so I could give a sibling an account on my PC so they could have separate saves.

Posted by Ben_H

What I will likely do is make a couple more accounts and set up sharing on them so I don't have to log off one machine whenever I switch machines. It is pretty annoying when I just want to check the store on my laptop and having to log my desktop out to do that. I like leaving Steam running on my desktop so I can download games while I am at school.

Posted by spraynardtatum

fuckin A

Posted by SquareTheRoot

How come I get a feeling the same people that Buuh'd the Xbox One DRM stuff are going to Hurray! at this news... It's an odd world, the world.

Posted by SlashDance

This is pretty great.

Posted by pingolobo

Go Steam. If I ever see Gave in person I'd hand-craft him a knife myself.

Edited by ArtisanBreads

How come I get a feeling the same people that Buuh'd the Xbox One DRM stuff are going to Hurray! at this news... It's an odd world, the world.

Agreed. I did understand it to an extent because Microsoft wasn't very good with their pricing and providing a lot of the features Valve did, but as Ryan rightly pointed out many times, people hated Steam in its early years too until they learned the ropes, provided incentives with pricing, and that sort of thing. Microsoft was just starting to get into sales too.

I'm hopeful that as the console business goes more digital Microsoft can revisit a lot of those policies.

Edited by jgf

This would only be a thing if one could play at the same time as long as the games are different. Just how it works with physical copies.

Edited by Xymox

Digital Rights for users, not just #bigcorps? Sweet! #bigGaben!

However, I see a problem with this - the problem being teaming up with a friend and that friend shares their library with you while you share yours with them, and you make sure to only buy single player games the other doesn't already own... I mean, that's nothing you couldn't already do with physical games but moving them around is still a hassle.

What's crazy is that this actually becomes a BETTER way to lend games to friends (ever lent a game to a friend and they keep it for fucking ever? yeah.) so organizing something like this becomes much easier.

And I mean... the price of a steam game is so incredibly low thanks to the sales that it kind of doesn't make sense unless you're like sharing with a friend that has zero monies.

Posted by iAmJohn

It's nice and all and I'm always happy to see Valve beat everyone in doing something right, but having only one person able to access your library at a time is a pretty dumb limit that misses the point of sharing games entirely.

Posted by devilzrule27

So it's the Offline mode with a new name. Actually it seems worse then offline mode. Good job steam?

Posted by spraynardtatum

This seems like it'd boost the sale of multiplayer games drastically over single player games. Which could be really bad for single player games considering they already sell less.

Also this little excerpt is worrisome to me:

You cannot just share a single game but the whole library. Let’s say you authorize your brother. If your brother wants to playPapers, Please through your shared account but you’re down for some Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 at the same time, he’s kicked off and told he has to purchase Papers, Please on his own account. If you’re not playing, though, he can keep going.

@patrickklepek could you clarify what this means if you know? To me it sounds like if Guy A is playing any game whatsoever than Guy B won't be able to play any games he doesn't own from the shared library.

This all sounds awesome and really exciting but that doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

Edited by fwpx

Why is this cool? If only one person can be playing through your library at the same time, this isn't any different from just letting them log into your account and playing. I suppose since you don't have to share your password, it's more secure, but I have a hard time seeing how this is a "big thing". This seems more like really good marketing- label an utterly mundane new feature with a name that calls to mind one of the better parts of Microsoft's dropped policies, reap the publicity, and hope people don't pay attention to the very key differences.

I was really excited until I read the FAQ, now i'm super apathetic.

Posted by metalsnakezero

How soon will become self-aware and becomes skynet?

Posted by MonkeyKing1969

Edited by ArtisanBreads

@fwpx said:

@towersixteen said:

Why is this cool? If only one person can be playing through your library at the same time, this isn't any different from just letting them log into your account and playing. I suppose since you don't have to share your password, it's more secure, but I have a hard time seeing how this is a "big thing". This seems more like really good marketing- label an utterly mundane new feature with a name that calls to mind one of the better parts of Microsoft's dropped policies, reap the publicity, and hope people don't pay attention to the very key differences.

I was really excited until I read the FAQ, now i'm super apathetic.

Totally. This is a useless program.

The original XOne program allowed a lender to play while you played your own library, so that was actually worthwhile.

Posted by zombie2011

Guys we should hate this! Remember when MS was going to do this and you all bitched and moaned.

Posted by phrosnite

This is BIG #EVO2013

Posted by Stealthmaster86

@zombie2011: Could I still play Single Player games offline? Yes. Then No.

Edited by President_Barackbar

Sounds dumb if only one person can access the entire library at once. Would be a lot better if you just couldn't play the same game.

Posted by metalsnakezero

I like how Value is doing step by step process with this instead of just flipping the switch right away like how Microsoft was about to do. This allows them to see where the problems may show up and can fix till release.

Edited by Funkydupe

COOL!

Edited by Nerolus

This game tech war is hilarious. I work in the office of a company owned by sony and we literally share a courtyard park between other buildings with microsoft in another building and valve in another building - all connected to the same park. All on the same city block.

I say we all just go out there with chains and bats and finish this thing off Warriors style and the winner gets to put all the good ideas into play on one console.

Posted by dudeglove

Now I just need a family to share it with.

Posted by Forcen

@towersixteen: You wont get banned by valve for sharing your account.

Posted by Duncecap

It's almost like they're testing the waters with a few baby steps into the sharing of digital goods of which nobody (as far as I know) has a good system for yet.

They don't have the knowledge or the experience to launch a fully fledged digital sharing system that works for users and publishers, but they will. Steam wasn't built in a day, remember its early incarnations? Many people had similar misgivings at release.

Edited by ArtisanBreads

Fair enough with the thought that this is baby steps towards real sharing. We will see. Point being that right now this is pretty useless to almost all users, that is the reality.

Posted by fwpx

I was super excited when I read the first few paragraphs, but this actually makes my particular scenario worse.

My wife loves Dragon Age: Origins. Loves it. She's probably beaten it 8-10 times now. She's always asking to play it, it's on my Steam account, so I let her just log on and play it. She is super against (and logically so) me buying her a copy because it's a waste of money. Why would we spend money on a copy for her if she can type 8 digits into steam and get access to it? So I thought this plan would finally solve that, until I read that only one user can access the library at a time. Now, if she's playing DA:O and I want to play a game, i just log in and boot her off of steam and the game keeps running. With this, she would be forced to quit out? Dumb.

This is just a more restrictive, more secure way to share your games. No thanks.

Edited by lordofultima

Guys we should hate this! Remember when MS was going to do this and you all bitched and moaned.

That's not why people bitched and moaned. They took it away as some imaginary crux, like we can't have both used game sales AND family sharing. lol

Posted by Colourful_Hippie

Sounds good

Posted by Clonedzero

It's cool, but functionally its not THAT useful. I mean if you're busy doing other stuff someone can play, but you can't do jack with your account while they're playing (well you can boot them lol).

But babysteps! It'll get there!

Edited by wh1terav3n

@lordofultima said:

@zombie2011 said:

Guys we should hate this! Remember when MS was going to do this and you all bitched and moaned.

That's not why people bitched and moaned. They took it away as some imaginary crux, like we can't have both used game sales AND family sharing. lol

Which was entirely true. You couldn't have both.

EDIT: Man, they even took the EXACT NAME from the Xbox One version of this idea. (Though the Xbox One version was WAY better than this), both the owner and the lendee could play the same game, multiple lendees could play different games off of someone's account. Man, that would've been awesome.

Posted by vikingdeath1

Dude, that is fucking Nuts. now my cousin can get his own account!

Posted by Rayeth

@fwpx: Correction: This is a way to share DIGITAL games that could not be previously shared at all (legally) before.

You're right that it is still kinda crappy compared to hard copy sharing of a physical disk. And there are still MAJOR problems with this as well (have to share the whole library at once vs individual games), but it's something. I'm not likely to utilize it, but I'm happy someone is trying to make it work. The digital future(TM) is closer than we think, and I hope some kind of solution that mimics the physical system can be in place before then.

Posted by ArtisanBreads

Just imagining all the angry posts and calls and e-mails Steam support is going to have to deal with now when people are wondering why they can't share their games while playing one of their own games in the same library. Just judging from a lot of the people saying this is so awesome.

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