Valve has announced that as of next week they will be starting a new service that “allows close friends and family members to share their libraries of Steam games.” In other words if I have a game in my library that you want to play then you can request access to it (or I can offer it) and you will be able to download and play it. This all seems almost too good to be true but there are a number of caveats.
- The feature will only be available from mid-September to a very limited number (1000) of accounts. It should be opened up later, but there is no timescale announced yet.
- Only 10 devices can be authorised at once. This should not be a problem for most people as long as it is easy to remove old devices.
- The library can only be shared in its entirity.
- Some steam games will be unsharable. Valve says that some games require an external account, key or subscription and will not be sharable.
- A shared game can only be played by one person at a time. This means if I share a game with Lily and she’s playing it and I want to start playing she will need to stop first. This also applies to libraries so I would not be able to play a title from my library at the same time as Lily borrowed a different title from my library.
- Region restrictions will remain. This is a little unclear if it means for specific region locked games or if I will not be able to share a library with someone in a different area of the globe.
Despite these problems when this new service becomes available there are obvious uses for it, trying games before you get them yourself, testing a games accessibility for you or even playing in full a friends game if you are able to coordinate your gaming schedules.
If you are interested in trying it join the Familiy Sharing group in the Steam community and a thousand accounts will be picked mid-September and given the ability to share their libraries.