Game sharing is coming to Steam

Steam is adding support for game sharing. The in-development Family Sharing feature is meant to allow "close friends and family members" to share their entire Steam libraries. Gamers will be able to grant access to as many as 10 different devices, although only one will be able to access the library at any given time. People playing shared games will be able to accumulate their own achievements and store saved games in the Steam Cloud. They won’t be able to buy DLC add-ons for games they don’t own, though.

Valve cautions that some games won’t support sharing. "Titles that require an additional third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play cannot be shared between accounts," the firm says. Translation: if the DRM isn’t Valve’s, sharing probably won’t work.

What if you want to get in a few Counter-Strike rounds while your buddy is mooching your copy of Left 4 Dead 2? According to Valve, the library owner will always have priority. Your friend will be given a few minutes to finish up before they’re booted. They’ll also be given the option to buy the game outright—a clever ploy that could boost sales if borrowers can’t help but want to play just one more level.

Sadly, the sharing system is restricted to entire libraries. The likelihood of conflicts would be much lower if games could be shared individually.

Family Sharing is rolling out first in a limited-access beta scheduled to begin in mid-September. If you’re interested, you can throw your name into the hat by joining the Steam Family Group. Initially, a thousand accounts will be selected for the beta. It’s unclear whether sharing will be allowed only within that group or if any Steam user will get to participate as a borrower.

If you manage to get in on the beta, be careful who you share with. Sharing rights may be revoked "if your library is used by borrowers to conduct cheating or fraud." That warning applies to Family Sharing in general, not just to the beta.

Comments closed
    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    You never “owned” it when you had it on CD either. You licensed the use of it.

    • Forge
    • 9 years ago

    I suddenly feel much more popular.

    • PixelArmy
    • 9 years ago

    Sharing never had to do with being online and/or checking in…!? It’s pretty much predicated on it…

    Look at the Steam scheme. “According to Valve, the library owner will always have priority. Your friend will be given a few minutes to finish up before they’re booted.” You have to at least check-in to notify Steam to boot your friend and your friend needs to be online so Steam can be boot them. Let me know how that is accomplished without a check-in… (in fact a 24 hour period would be a larger grace period than the “few minutes” Steam gives you).

    I’m not applauding anything, personally, I didn’t like the check-in/always on if you [u<]weren't[/u<] sharing, but if you were, it seems necessary. Try = Bringing back features that may or may not be in a manner acceptable to the customer, I don't know what the reaction to this is.

    • Diplomacy42
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<] they are trying to bring back sharing [/quote<] Do. or Do Not. There is no TRY. Especially when your kneejerk reaction (pulling it in the first place) never had anything to do with the 24hr check in that people were complaining about. MSFT pulled them at the same time, but for totally different reasons. Anyone who was mad at the "complainers" or who applauds microsoft's reversal is simply falling for the old razzle dazzle. would a bank robber be a 'hero' if the hostage negotiator convinced them to surrender without a firefight or shooting the hostages?

    • Diplomacy42
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]The only "sad" thing about that is that there are actually some people who choose to think that Microsoft cancelled sharing as a vindictive, punitive measure designed to punish those people who had objected to (complained about) the DRM Microsoft had intended to burden the xBone with. That's not true, and is a pitiful attitude to have. [/quote<] I don't really think vindictive is the right word, but you said it in the first paragraph... there was and is NOTHING stopping them currently from implementing game sharing or anything else that they were going to do. The move to drop the drm and the game-sharing occurred in tandem, and so people assume(incorrectly) that the decision was motivated by the same reasons. Either they couldn't eliminate one without the other (untrue) or they [b<] chose [/b<] to eliminate both. Whether they chose to eliminate it to "punish" the general population, or whether they did it because they wanted to play the victim, or whether they simply couldn't do it is really beside the point. Its quite clear that you can have a system and a game that runs in offline mode just fine, and it is equally clear that you can have game-sharing while the console is connected to the webz, especially if riot games can do it. MSFT has just a little more clout in the gaming world than Riot does, especially with drm clearing-houses like EA.

    • atryus28
    • 9 years ago

    Do what I do with my son. Put them in offline mode. You can still play on the net in offline mode. You can also play in LAN mode with one online and the other offline.

    • squeeb
    • 9 years ago

    Rough times indeed. I recall my friends list not working properly for what seemed like years.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    Does valve make games anymore???
    😛

    I mean this is all great news as they are a leading force in games services but they still hold the keys to brands that are near and dear to the hearts of all true core gamers.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 9 years ago

    Gosh, Valve isn’t my favorite for a number of reasons but I trust them in-spite of that because they are always creating new opportunity for mutually beneficial exchanges. Good on them. Such a creative company.

    • kilkennycat
    • 9 years ago

    As expected, this limited Valve exercise is more of a marketing ploy than anything very useful. The technical implementation of a lending library for INDIVIDUAL games from any user’s account is (for Valve) a trivial exercise as each Steam-registered game has a unique Steam-ID number.

    Please note that GOG.com is beginning to add new games to their completely DRM-free catalog… Shadow Warrior reboot, Rise of the Triads 2013, Amnesia:Machine for Pigs etc, etc…

    Also many of the games in the HumbleBundle offerings come as completely DRM-free downloads PLUS corresponding Steam keys. ( for example see the latest HumbleBundle 9 )

    • sjl
    • 9 years ago

    What I would like to see is the ability to let friends/family play a limited number of games from my library while I’m playing something else. Say I want to play Deus Ex: Human Revolution. A mate could be playing “my” copy of Hitman: Blood Money, while my brother could play Civilisation V.

    But if more than, say, four or five of my games are checked out, no more can be used – or if I want to play a game somebody else is playing, they get booted (with warning, of course.)

    It’d be a lot fairer than the current system – so of course, it’ll never happen. Go ahead, Valve – prove me wrong. I dare you.

    • destroy.all.monsters
    • 9 years ago

    And we willing ceded ownership for convenience (and to a degree low prices).

    • superjawes
    • 9 years ago

    …holy cow…[s<]Valve[/s<] Steam is ten years old TODAY...

    • Disco
    • 9 years ago

    Exactly. It’s a pain when all I want to do is boot up steam to look up the sales and my kids are playing torchlight or trine on the other family computer using my account. This could be a great system.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    I think it’d be cool if more publishers got on the “spawning” feature similar to what Blizzard did way back with Starcraft, and has resurrected with Heart of the Swarm. Download a multiplayer install, get your own free starter account, and then join a party with a friend who will get you access to more stuff while you’re combined. It’s pretty great if you are on the fence about a game..

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    I’m caught. I want to -1 you for missing the sarcasm (seriously, how can you miss it?) but I want to +1 you for being right about this being a “feature” nobody wanted. Indeed, thanks Gaben.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    Yeah I was kind of thinking this myself as I read it. Steam isn’t “sharing done right”. Xbone probably was closer, but what that necessarily means for the used game market and whatnot makes it less attractive to console players.

    • Mr. Eco
    • 9 years ago

    And for a good reason. I bought HL2, 6 CDs. Installed one by one, then waited for more than a day to download updates from Steam.

    • PixelArmy
    • 9 years ago

    Call BS on it or whatever, but you’re the one being misleading about what was said about the 10 friends.

    “Give your family access to your entire games library anytime, anywhere: Xbox One will enable new forms of access for families. Up to ten members of your family can log in and play from your shared games library on any Xbox One. Just like today, a family member can play your copy of Forza Motorsport at a friend’s house. Only now, they will see not just Forza, but all of your shared games. You can always play your games, and [b<]any one of your family members can be playing from your shared library at a given time[/b<]." Straight from MS: [url<]http://news.xbox.com/2013/06/license[/url<] (emphasis mine). What followed was essentially a internet wide game of telephone, fueled by things like your post. They never said what you said they did, but you're ready to condemn them (go Vesuvius) if they clarify that they didn't? What?!? The only thing that people needed clarification on was "family" which should have been fairly obvious, unless you're intentionally being obtuse (see my sarcastic post below). And FYI, they are trying to bring back sharing: [url<]http://news.xbox.com/2013/08/xbox-one-digital-games-and-live-gold[/url<]

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 9 years ago

    To be fair, Steam was not well liked back in 2003, or for the following 2 or 3 years after that.

    • cynan
    • 9 years ago

    Walt is on point. The short version:

    Microsoft ambiguous PR cock-up + always online restriction = negative public reaction = MS cancelling the whole thing.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    Better than nothing. Publishers are nervous, but if they show encouragement by this, maybe they’ll allow more tiers of sharing to play 2x at once, etc.

    I know I would support gaming companies that released cheaper prices for buying multiple licenses, like Left 4 Dead and Borderlands does.

    • indeego
    • 9 years ago

    This is a great start. Vast majority of games I don’t play anymore in my library, but my kids do. It would be great to just lend them out to them for a weekend or whatnot.

    • Voldenuit
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]OMG it's called "Family Sharing"?!?!? How will Valve verify this!??![/quote<] Easy. Since there's no actual "sharing" involved, there's no need to verify users. It's more like "lending", except you have to lend out your entire library (and account) at a time. This is a feature nobody asked for. Thanks Gabe.

    • Bensam123
    • 9 years ago

    Yup, almost zero functionality. Simply a namesake. This reminds of what a nightmare steam is to use for companies or anything where you have to manage multiple games over multiple machines. Essentially you just have to make a new account for each game, despite having multiples of the same game. It’s really quite dumb.

    Now what would be great is if it functioned like keyserver, you know redistributing keys to whoever needs to use them whenever and simply denying use of keys when more are being used then are available. This should be something Steam excels at, as it’s simply a keyserver at the most basic level…

    • Shambles
    • 9 years ago

    Just a checkbox feature for Valve. It’s not actually very useful in any way as you’re not sharing your games, your sharing control of the steam account as a whole. Steam could have done something special with this, instead it’s more of a blunder that you’d expect from the console makers.

    • Peldor
    • 9 years ago

    I’ll be shocked if that ever happens.

    • Waco
    • 9 years ago

    Agreed.

    This system is actually [i<]harder[/i<] to deal with than the current "just go into offline mode on the second machine" exploit. I understand that people want to share their games...but this is a step backwards, not forwards.

    • PixelArmy
    • 9 years ago

    OMG it’s called “Family Sharing”?!?!? How will Valve verify this!??! Will they want a DNA test!?!? An address?!?? And [i<]Close[/i<] friends? What about just normal friends? Will they want yearbook photos?! Make sure you're tagged together in photos on a social network?!? Old dirty friendship bracelets?!? And how will Steam boot your friend that is in your library? Will they need to be "always on"? Madness!

    • WaltC
    • 9 years ago

    Talking about what Microsoft “would have done” and “why things changed” is totally bogus. All you need to know is that Microsoft has elected thus far [i<]not to do anything.[/i<] No one is stopping Microsoft from doing what it wants to do. Period. What Steam is doing is all that can be done under copyright law--and it isn't very much--but, I suppose, for some people it is better than nothing. By far the best way to share a game is to borrow the actual game DVD from a friend or associate for as long as he's willing to let you use it--or, you can trade game disks with each other, etc. By borrowing and trading physical disks there's nobody between the lender and and the borrower--no one like Steam or Microsoft to lay down all sorts of necessary, copyright-driven restrictions. At some point people will apply common sense to all of this--and AFAIK, I never saw one person "complain" about Microsoft's announced "sharing" plan--heck, no. It was all the other stuff Microsoft had planned to do--always online, etc.--that people complained about. Nothing is stopping Microsoft from doing what Steam has announced, which is to allow those who want "sharing" of some kind, to get it, while at the same time allowing those who don't want it to go without it if that is their wish. Here's my opinion for what it is worth: Microsoft *had* to drop its initial sharing plan because all of the BS the company spewed during the reveal and after misled people in major ways about what their "sharing" program was going to allow them to do (eg, "share 10 games at once with ten different people," etc.) That was *never* in the cards and never going to happen. But that's the way some people interpreted what Microsoft said, and Microsoft never worked very hard to clear things up--the company *wanted* to mislead people in that way--up until it realized it was courting another PR disaster if it didn't clarify what it actually meant by "sharing." And rather than do another embarrassing 180, the company elected to drop the whole sharing thing altogether. Microsoft did an incredibly lousy, sorry job initially promoting xBone. I mean, when the company did the 180 about the DRM and said things like: "Gee, suddenly we understand how much you like your disks and how much you enjoy trading those disks among each other," what could have been more bogus and lame than that? I mean, xBone has had a physical Blu-Ray/DVD drive designed in since Day One, hasn't it? Yep, when they cancelled xBone game sharing [i<]before it ever started[/i<], Microsoft was simply trying to stop the bleeding--which would have gotten much worse when Microsoft had to 'fess up and say, "Well, we never said anything about 10 people playing borrowed games at once, did we?" People would have gone Mt. Vesuvius over that--so Microsoft just cancelled the whole thing. The only "sad" thing about that is that there are actually some people who choose to think that Microsoft cancelled sharing as a vindictive, punitive measure designed to punish those people who had objected to (complained about) the DRM Microsoft had intended to burden the xBone with. That's not true, and is a pitiful attitude to have. It's up to Microsoft to deliver the products and services its customers want--it's not up to xBone customers to meekly take whatever it is Microsoft decides to dish out! That's the way *all* business works.

    • Neutronbeam
    • 9 years ago

    And showing Electronic Arts!

    • curtisb
    • 9 years ago

    Let’s not forget this is the way it [i<]was[/i<] going to work on the Xbox One until the collected minority complained and got Microsoft to reverse course. The primary difference, however, is that the "borrower" was only going to be bothered if the game owner wanted to play the particular game the borrower was playing. This looks like the borrower is going to be kicked out of whatever borrowed game they're playing if the owner plays any game from their library.

    • DeadOfKnight
    • 9 years ago

    About time. Now how about gifting and trading of games between libraries?

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 9 years ago

    Valve:

    Showing Microsoft how gaming is meant to be done since 09/12/2003.

    • The Dark One
    • 9 years ago

    The best way to think about this is a guest logon your your account. You can’t play each other’s games simultaneously because that would cut down on sales. On the plus side, it removes the risk that comes with manually sharing your account by handing over the password to a buddy.

    • peartart
    • 9 years ago

    [quote<]Sadly, the sharing system is restricted to entire libraries. The likelihood of conflicts would be much lower if games could be shared individually.[/quote<] Unless you have one account per game. It's hard to care about something that's 100% about what rights holders are willing to do and 0% about technology.

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