Valve has announced plans to implement a Family Sharing plan into Steam that would allow gamers to share their library of games across multiple devices. Once authorised, a lender’s full library will be accessible, though an account can only be accessed by a single person at a time and the owner always takes precedence. A limited beta will begin next week and grow out from there.
Currently, the only way Steam users can theoretically allow their friends and family to play their games is to provide them access into their account. However, if customers use the Family Sharing service, multiple people will be able to access Steam games on different devices and log-in with their own personal account. This means different users will be able to store their own files, save customisations and earn individual achievements.
Anna Sweet of Valve described the thought process going into the Family Sharing system’s creation: “Our customers have expressed a desire to share their digital games among friends and family members, just as current retail games, books, DVDs, and other physical media can be shared. Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests.”
The current plan is to limit library sharing to ten devices at a given time and that means the full library, not just a single game or two. That said, some games that involve subscriptions or third-party keys and accounts won’t be sharable, and region locking will still be in effect. In addition, the owner of the game will still have priority access to their library.
Steam Family Sharing will start with a limited beta next week, inviting the first 1000 members of its community group and then adding more over the following weeks and months. It’s worth noting that this seems to be the exact plan that Microsoft originally detailed for the Xbox One before they reversed the decision.