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.