Shared Gaming May Be Coming to Steam

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.

  • nevilence
    this would be a very cool feature, as long as i could dictate who could borrow them that is
  • Morkintash
    "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.)
  • invlem
    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.
  • NaThRo
    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."
  • agnickolov
    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.
  • dutchling
    This use to be a feature on Xbox one.
  • edogawa
    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.
  • fcabanski
    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.
  • kinggraves
    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.
  • cats_Paw
    Valve: You are doing it right.