Well it's about time. Valve Software announced on Wednesday that Family Sharing has finally arrived on Steam, a new service that allows users to share their games with friends and family. The drawback, for now, is that users must share their entire library rather than lend out a specific game. Thus, Family Sharing may not be an ideal solution for parents wanting to share specific titles to their children.
"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," explained Anna Sweet of Valve. "Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests."
So how does this new feature work? It requires the lender's account and the borrower's account. The PC can be local or remote, but it must be authorized by the lender to receive the games. Once that's done, the lender's library is shared with the borrower in its entirety until the lender decides to play a game. At that time, the borrower will be asked to purchase the game he/she is currently playing, or given a few minutes to exit.
"See a family member's installed game that you want to play? Send them a request to authorize the computer," Valve said. "Once authorized, the lender's library of Steam games become available for others on the machine to access, download and play."
A Steam account may authorize Family Sharing on up to 10 devices at a given time. Due to technical limitations, some Steam games may be unavailable for sharing, such as titles that require an additional third-party key, account, or subscription. Borrowed games will be unavailable on even an authorized device when the lender’s library is currently in use on another computer.
"A borrower will have access to the lender’s DLC, but borrowers may not purchase DLC for a base game they don't own," Valve said. "Any player may purchase, trade, earn, or otherwise acquire in-game content while playing a game, but in-game items cannot be shared between accounts. These items remain the property of the account that purchased or acquired them, whether borrowing or lending the base game."
Valve said that Family Sharing privileges will be revoked if the lender's library is used to conduct cheating or fraud. Steam customers are recommended to authorize only familiar computers that are deemed secure.
Family Sharing for Steam will be rolled out as a limited beta next week. To participate in the program, head here. Additional information regarding the new service can be found here along with the company's group discussion.