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Shared Gaming May Be Coming to Steam

By - Source: Kotaku | B 30 comments

Code found in Steam points to possible game sharing with other members.

I'm a big fan of Steam. It's super easy to purchase and download games, and the community and discounts keep me coming back for more. Heck, I probably have a mountain of titles I've purchased over the last six months that I'll never get around to playing in the near future. I will even buy discounted PC games from other platforms like Amazon and GameFly just to acquire the Steam key. For PC gamers, Steam is a treasure chest.

But what's a total pain is buying games for the kids like Sonic the Hedgehog or the highly popular LEGO titles (we have them all I think). Given that purchases are locked to one specific account, they can't be loaned out to friends and family. Sure, you can log into your Steam account on any other authorized device for others to play, but there can be only one login at a time. Thus, if your son is playing LEGO Batman on the den computer, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is not an option until he's logged off.

Bummer. Sure, a separate Steam account could be used to purchase games for the kids to play separately, but that's just another account to deal with, and another account with credit card information. No thanks.

However now with all the hoopla surrounding Xbox One and games locked to a specific user, code has suddenly popped up in Steam that suggests Valve may be loosening the reigns a bit on game sharing. Although the company hasn't announced anything official, Steam may eventually feature a "shared game library" that allows other Steam users to borrow your games.

Here are the "relevant" parts of the code provided by Kotaku:

* "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."

As the code shows, game owners can let other Steam users "borrow" their games. For instance, I could create a new account for my son without having to enter credit card information, then let him play LEGO Batman from his new account. But if I were to play LEGO Batman, he would be forced to stop. Thus, only one gamer can play LEGO Batman at a time – no simultaneous uses, or so it seems.

Of course, there's a good chance this option will never become a finalized feature. Like the Xbox One, it will be up to the publishers if they allow their titles to be borrowed from paying customers. Maybe there will be a user limit, or possibly even a time limit – who knows at this point.

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  • 0 Hide
    nevilence , June 19, 2013 8:08 PM
    this would be a very cool feature, as long as i could dictate who could borrow them that is
  • 0 Hide
    Morkintash , June 19, 2013 8:13 PM
    "Thus, if your son is playing LEGO Batman on the den computer, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is not an option until he's logged off."

    For now you can have one in offline mode with the other logged in. Just disable the connection before launching Steam. Some games don't work in offline mode though (multi-player usually.)
  • 0 Hide
    invlem , June 19, 2013 8:53 PM
    This would be an amazing feature, many single player games out there that sit idle in the steam library probably never to be played again, would be great if you could lend out those titles to friends.
  • 0 Hide
    NaThRo , June 19, 2013 9:51 PM
    My guess would be a limited time frame for borrowing games.
    "This shared game is unavailable because you have reached maximum shared play time. If you enjoyed this game, please buy it for your own library."
  • 0 Hide
    agnickolov , June 19, 2013 10:14 PM
    What we really need is a family account with linked kids accounts. I'm presently considering re-buying some games I already have on Steam from GOG just so I can give them to my son. I did do so for a few games already. Steam is sometimes cheaper than GOG though, so that's extra hurt...

    For any new purchases I consider GOG first and Steam second. Since I mostly buy older games that works ok for me, but Valve do miss sales from me.
  • 0 Hide
    dutchling , June 19, 2013 10:16 PM
    This use to be a feature on Xbox one.
  • 0 Hide
    edogawa , June 19, 2013 10:17 PM
    This feature would be really great. Friends can basically demo a game before they decide to purchase it. I don't think publishers would lose money. If the consumer likes the game they will buy it, I certainly would if the game is good. I don't believe digital games should be resold so this is a good alternative. I can't imagine what PC gaming would be like if it wasn't for Steam.
  • 0 Hide
    fcabanski , June 19, 2013 11:29 PM
    You folks are begging STEAM for a feature non STEAM purchased games already have. STEAM tells you how and where to play, then may give you a peanut if you're good.
  • 0 Hide
    kinggraves , June 20, 2013 1:23 AM
    You could probably just get a Wii U for the kids, it's not like they need a keyboard for Lego games. Well, anyway I suppose there is one positive to the Xbone, they've forced Valve to finally start looking into better game sharing and perhaps in the future digital selling as well. If the industry really wants digital sales to become the norm and strip Gamestop of it's influence over sales, it's going to have to take measures to assure that something I pay good money for is mine and not just being rented from Steam/Microsoft. Digital media licensing is about the only thing that isn't guaranteed the right of rental and resale that nearly all retail consumers are allowed.
  • 0 Hide
    cats_Paw , June 20, 2013 2:16 AM
    Valve: You are doing it right.
  • 0 Hide
    hetneo , June 20, 2013 2:16 AM
    This could actually improve sales of quality games because people could use it as trial, of course it would bring down sales of low quality games which would go against publishers' wishes. Would be great for consumers.
  • 0 Hide
    mrface , June 20, 2013 4:59 AM
    "Thus, if your son is playing LEGO Batman on the den computer, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is not an option "

    CS:GO should never be an option...:p 
  • 0 Hide
    hoofhearted , June 20, 2013 5:08 AM
    Locking should be limited to the game, not the account. Maybe the account should be locked to one ip or a max of 4 ips (in case my daughter is at a friends) or such. Would be nice if I could play Skyrim while my daughter plays Sims or whatever.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , June 20, 2013 6:37 AM
    Valve have probably been planning this for a while, waiting for the next-gen consoles to show their cards before BOOM HEADSHOT and taking back the crown of best gaming system again

    PC was always better than console and everytime consoles take a step towards PCs to close the gap they put it in a higher gear and leave them eating dust
  • 0 Hide
    rolli59 , June 20, 2013 7:14 AM
    Would be great for homes like mine with 5accounts.
  • 0 Hide
    sewcrates , June 20, 2013 9:30 AM
    "...and another account with credit card information. No thanks."

    I have two accounts for my kids and I just buy games for them using the gift feature from my account. No cards needed on any account but mine!

    Steam is awesome! I often joke with my friends about how angry I was when I bought Half-Life 2 and had to get this weird internet thing. The Xbox crowd should HOPE they kill used games because killing used games on the PC allowed Valve to create this amazing service.
  • 0 Hide
    dvanburen , June 20, 2013 9:55 AM
    I think every one is missing something in these lines of code:

    "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."

    The keyword here is "games", plural. This sounds more like you will not be able to play *any* game in your library if someone is playing *any* game from your shared library. In essence, 1 game at a time, no matter who us playing.

    This is just speculation, but using games instead of game suggests this is true.
  • 0 Hide
    rohitbaran , June 20, 2013 10:06 AM
    and another account with credit card information. No thanks.

    Well, one can choose not to store their credit card details in the account. That's what I do. Better going through a minute of hassle than risking my credit card details being exposed in case of a hack.
  • 0 Hide
    gm0n3y , June 20, 2013 11:59 AM
    This would be a great idea. I could see having friends all sharing each other's games. For single player games only one or 2 people would need to buy it, everyone else can just borrow it when not in use. While this may hurt sales a little, I think that the added functionality would lead more people to buy games, meaning more sales overall.
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , June 20, 2013 12:28 PM
    Now all we need is trading and trade-ins. Maybe even family accounts.
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