Steam beta file hints at game sharing feature

As the next-gen console war heats up, the Xbox One continues to get flak for the limitations it places upon game sharing. Of course, nobody points out that sharing games on the PC is much more difficult. DRM schemes and distribution services like Steam make it all but impossible.

Perhaps that's about to change, though.

The folks at the NeoGAF forums have come across something interesting in the latest Steam beta. A user-interface localization file includes three lines that hint at an upcoming (and as-of-yet unrevealed) game sharing feature. Take a look:

"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicense_Title" "Shared game library"
"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_OwnerText" "Just so you know, your games are currently in use by %borrower%. Playing now will send %borrower% a notice that it's time to quit."
"SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_BorrowerText" "This shared game is currently unavailable. Please try again later or buy this game for your own library."

You don't have to take our word for it. Head to your Steam settings, select "Steam Beta upgrade" on the Beta Participation screen, wait for the auto-updater to do its thing, and then head to %programfiles(x86)%\Steam\Public. The lines above are inside the steamui_english.txt file.

Based on the wording, it sounds like you'll be able to choose which games you share, but it will be impossible for two people to play a shared game at the same time. The borrower will be asked to stop playing if the original owner wants to hop in. And... that's about all we can infer so far. There's no telling which games—if any—might support this feature. It's probably a safe bet that Valve's own titles will, but I expect other games won't be available for sharing unless their publishers agree.

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