Valve adding Steam Family Sharing, lets users share game libraries

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steam-share.pngValve, makers of the Half-Life, Portal and Left 4 Dead games and purveyors of the Steam PC gaming digital download service, have announced a new Steam feature that will allow users to share their games with family members.

Called Family Sharing, the feature will allow a user’s library of Steam games to be shared with close friends and family on up to 10 additional computers, with players on each computer allowed their own save game profiles and achievements.

To activate Steam Family Sharing, a Steam user will need to send a request to an account sharer in order to authorise a supported computer.

Of course, Valve don’t want to lose too many sales through rampant game sharing, so only one user will be able to access the game library at a time. If the account owner signs on, others currently using the account will be given a warning to either log off, purchase the game being played, or be booted out. Valve also not that, initially at least, some games will not work with the service, such as games requiring a subscription or third-party serial number.

“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,” Valve explained on its website. “It’s all enabled by authorising a shared computer.”

Steam Family Sharing will open in beta next week, with 1,000 accounts getting access to the feature, before being rolled out more widely.

A welcome addition, the Family Sharing feature interestingly mirrors some of the ideas that Microsoft initially had planned for the Xbox One console, before a consumer backlash forced them to make a 180 on the plans.

Gerald Lynch