Steam Adding Option To Share And Borrow Games

By Nathan Grayson on September 11th, 2013 at 10:00 pm.

Here’s something I never expected to say: Steam has stolen a feature from the Xbox One, and it’s really, really cool. Back before Microsoft cut the cord on that X-est of bones’ online requirement, it touted a family sharing program as one of the (few) perks that constant connectedness would bring. But then there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about, well, everything else, so Microsoft packed up its whizzbang new toy and went home. The only real winners in that whole scenario? Us! Soon, we’ll be able to share our entire Steam libraries with up to ten people of our choosing.

Sounds totally nuts, right? There is, however, a slight catch. Friends/family can play your games in full (with DLC, if you’ve purchased it), create their own save files, and unlock their own achievements, but they can’t do it with you.

“A shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time. As the lender, you may always access and play your games at any time. If you decide to start playing when a friend is already playing one of your games, he/she will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing.”

Also, entirely arbitrary regional limitations are still in place.

So the system’s not entirely ideal, but it’s still a pretty damn seismic step in the right direction. A beta is kicking off later this month, and you can learn a valuable lesson about the value of sharing and friendship before all of your dumb friends by joining Steam’s family sharing group. So then, what are you waiting for? Get on it, and then give me – and only me – unfettered access to all of your most precious belongings.

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165 Comments »

  1. c-Row says:

    I wonder whether this is an answer to Origin’s recently introduced 24-hour return policy or just a coincidence – one allows you to get a refund while the other doesn’t even require you to buy the game in the first place as long as a friend has it in his library.

    • SaVi says:

      There were rumors about Steams Family Sharing before EA had that return policy, though maybe that had it’s own rumors too.

      • jayc4life says:

        Covering their bases by allowing multiple accounts on a single machine being able to have their own achievements and save files? Sounds more like covering their own bases for a SteamBox than any kind of retaliatory action against Origin or whoever. There’d be blue murder if a SteamBox was released, only for the general public (and controversy-baiting news outlets they may follow, like Fox News) to find out that games are strictly tied to an account and not the box itself and cause a massive outcry.

        • Apocalypse says:

          Local save games already work fine with most games, as they are not steam account based, all you have to do is using different user profiles.

          The new sharing feature is still great as it eliminates the need for switching user profiles just for save games and give you the option to have those account bound achievements for steam works games as well, now if they allow us to to save in each user profile account credentials a another big convenient step would have been done for family computers. Currently you can not auto-login into steam, because always the last logged in user will be remembered, Independent of the user profile you are using. Which is honestly a little annoying thing.

          More annoying are games that your family owns on multiple steam accounts but have different language or DLC versions installed. Civ 5 for example used to break itself for a while, because it could not downgrade itself, which meant my significant other had to download the whole game each day she wanted to play, because my steam account had 2 dlcs more than hers. I had to write a script that automagical maintained two different civ 5 installations on the same pc to trick steam to not break her installation.

          The Witcher seems to download each time 1.5 gb of langue files, as we use different langue settings.

          List goes on and on, rarely a big deal IF your internet con is fast enough that you will not mind some extra GB downloads before playing, but I can imagine that this could be really, really annoying for people with slow internet connections.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          “Covering their bases by allowing multiple accounts on a single machine being able to have their own achievements and save files?”

          This has been true since at least the time I bought the Orange Box, so it’s been true for at least five years now.

          • zapatapon says:

            How time flies. I installed Steam originally to buy the Orange Box. In the first year I had about 10 titles in my library and I cherished each of them. Now there are more than 300, a majority of which I haven’t installed, with about a third I don’t have the foggiest idea what they are even about.

        • Mabswer says:

          Well it’s either implementing this or pulling out of EU. Finally somethign good came out of Legal issues.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      I’d imagine something of this complexity (legal and technical) would’ve been in development for a while.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      EA’s return policy is a joke. It only works for EA games and only if they decide it to. It’s not automatic nor guaranteed by any means.

      Don’t get me wrong, it’s a nice gesture, but it’s not anything all that great, either.

      • Grey Poupon says:

        If you play through a game in less than 24h, you shouldn’t be allowed to return it. You should, however, be allowed to resell it, which is something neither Origin or Steam allow you to do.

      • HadToLogin says:

        And sharing won’t work for games with additional logins/DRMs.

        EA just start their return program, they can’t risk losing money from it if people would start returning SteamWorks/UPlay games.
        If you would buy Splinter Cell on Origin, you practically get Uplay code, while Ubisoft gets probably 70% while EA gets 30%. If you’d return that SC, EA must return 100% of price, which means they would need to use their own $30-40. Maybe in time they will be able to talk to their partners about making it for all games, but first they need to test how it works.

  2. daphne says:

    I can only hope that they’ll add sharing on a per-game-basis later, and that it’ll allow multiple people enjoying a library simultaneously. This might be a tad optimistic, though… either way, this is a monumental step forward.

    • Sic says:

      So, you want it way better than borrowing a game from a friend, not just a little better?

      This is brilliant news from Valve. Don’t belittle it.

      • Shuck says:

        If I understand it correctly, as soon as you start playing any game in your library, anyone sharing your library can’t play any games you’ve “shared”. That makes it significantly worse than sharing games on disk unless your friends are on the other side of the planet [except that region limits wouldn't allow that] or otherwise always play games on different days or times of day than you do.

        • darkChozo says:

          I think they model they’re going for is sharing a console with your family/roommates, not borrowing games from your friend to play on your own console/PC. It’s a bit weird, but if you think of Steam as an Xbox in a virtual living room, it kinda works.

          Whether that’s useful or not depends pretty heavily on your Steam usage. Consider what might happen if you’re a hybrid console/PC gamer, or even someone who plays a bunch of non-Steam games (Minecraft or LoL players, for example).

          [side note, but I wonder how this will work with F2P titles? If I play PS2 through the Steam launcher, does that mean my friend can't play any of the games I've paid for?]

          • onsamyj says:

            You can’t share PS2, or any other game that require non-Steam account. So, I think they smart enough to allow you to play your unshared games, while someone playing your shared one.

          • HothMonster says:

            It mentions that only games that don’t have external restrictions (accounts / single access codes ect) won’t be included in the shared library. I would hope that also means I can play things outside my shared library while people play things in it.

          • Shuck says:

            Of course, my Steam library isn’t a console, so it’s more than a bit strange to think of it that way. I’m having a hard time figuring out under what circumstances this is actually useful. A family who all use one computer to play games? If they’re not sharing an account (because you don’t want the kids running up credit card purchases), then buying games/giving Steam wallet funds for the kid’s accounts seems to make more sense, mostly. Roommates? They seem more likely to be playing on different machines.
            With F2P games, I assume sharing won’t even be possible as it counts you as already “owning” those games.

          • Apocalypse says:

            You can always start PS2 without the steam client.

          • Baines says:

            Microsoft’s cancelled plans with the Xbox One were more generous. There, restrictions would have been on a game-by-game basis. While two people couldn’t play a single specific game at the same time, a friend would have been able to play one of your shared games while you played a different game.

            It shows the gulf between PC and console worlds that Microsoft’s Xbox One plans were met with complaint, while Valve’s version of the same idea is seen as progress.

          • darkChozo says:

            @Shuck

            For me, I have a roommate with a gaming PC, so we can trade games when I’m playing LoL, he’s playing Firefall, or either of us are just doing something else. Basically a way more upscale version of sharing console games with a sibling. I also have a fair number of student friends (ie. people who keep weird hours), including one in Hawaii, who can use my library when I’m at work. Obviously it’s a bit specific, but, well, I’m happy :D

            @Apocalypse

            Yeah, I know, that was more hypothetical than anything. I’m hoping they don’t turn off sharing when you’re playing a non-shared game, but they might, and it’s not entirely clear right now.

          • HadToLogin says:

            @Baines: Problem with MS plans about family sharing was that nobody in MS took time to say anything about it. All they were talking about was “Dogs, Fishes, TV, DRM, 24 hours pinging, Kinect, no sharing discs, no reselling”. I don’t think Family Sharing was mentioned even once on those main conferences and we only learned about from little talks and various leaks.

          • Milky1985 says:

            “Microsoft’s cancelled plans with the Xbox One were more generous. There, restrictions would have been on a game-by-game basis. While two people couldn’t play a single specific game at the same time, a friend would have been able to play one of your shared games while you played a different game.

            It shows the gulf between PC and console worlds that Microsoft’s Xbox One plans were met with complaint, while Valve’s version of the same idea is seen as progress.”

            First of all you can’t say that MS plans were more generous, mainly because they never actually said what there plans were , all the info we had on it was rumors. One of the rumors was that 10 people anywhere in the world could play your games in full.

            The reason Xbox ones plans were met with complaint and valves seen as progress is that in valves case its an opening of a system with more functionality for little to no downside, but for xbox one to get that functionality we would have had to give away fundamental rights of ownership that console owners currently have (that pc owners basically don’t have anymore anyway, but we have traded it for lower prices across the board)

            Your comparing apples to oranges here in terms of the functionality that is being expanded upon.

        • kraken says:

          Without that library sharing limitation, there would be too much room for abuse.
          You could buy games with a few friends and then playing them each in turns, thus dividing the sales without any drawback.

          • elnalter says:

            But people can do that with disc format games too. How is sharing something you bought abusive?

          • LegendaryTeeth says:

            Other than convenience. Which, in the end, is all Steam offers over piracy in the first place. And they still seem to be doing rather well.

      • Ansob says:

        Yes, we’d like the ability to lend friends specific games instead of being arbitrarily locked out of all our games just because our friend wants to play one game. You know, like back when games came on CDs and you didn’t have to forswear playing video games at all because your friend borrowed one CD off you.

        • malkav11 says:

          But, if you’re lending the game, then you’re not locked out at all. You’ll be able to play anything you own whenever you like. It’ll be up to you whether you decide to hold off in order to let your friends play.

          • ViktorBerg says:

            But then the experience is going to be very aggravating for the person you are lending games to. At any time, they have to expect to have to quickly shut down the game in case you decide to play something else.

            It’s just an all around arbitrary limitation that has no point but to make the system to annoying to use that the people who lend the games get frustrated, and then end up going to the Steam Store and buying the game they wanted to play, just so they can avoid the annoying interruptions.

      • Arkh says:

        Hear hear! Taking away your right to lend your property and them partially giving it back it’s brilliant and benevolent.

        All hail Gabe, everyone go loath Origin.

      • fish99 says:

        It’s nowhere near as good as lending a game to a friend. When you lend a game to a friend, do they have to borrow every other game you own as well?

        It’s a small step in the right direction, but I doubt they’ll ever let you share games in the same way you share a boxed game.

      • LostInDaJungle says:

        Here’s a scenario: I have 3 kids, 10, 11, and 14. I go out and buy them a game. Do I want them to have their own Steam accounts? No. I want to monitor the activity and who they might be contacting in the community. I also want my kids to have access to the games I’ve purchased and am finished with.

        Back when my oldest was 10, it wasn’t a big deal. Very few games on Steam. Now, when a new game comes out I have to wonder if it’s worth getting it on Steam, because I don’t want to be locked out of “Saint’s Row 4″ because he’s playing “Little Inferno”: And my daughter in the other room can’t play “Monkey Island” either.

        So, I’m locked out of my $50 games because he likes something we got on sale or the Humble Bundle. So, what do I do? I buy elsewhere, or get elsewhere without buying. Since no one sells PC games retail anymore, and even Amazon gives you Steam Keys… Yeah. It is FAR more convenient to pirate, and I save $50 in the process. Why? Because I have one account that owns 100 games. (FYI, I usually buy them on Steam before getting the pirated version to actually play, I’m not a total jerk. But honestly, when money’s tight I just promise myself I’ll do it later… And with 3 kids, it seems money is always tight.)

        I don’t have this problem with any other system. I can play Forza upstairs on my Xbox while my oldest plays Skyrim on the Xbox downstairs. He can log out of my Live account and still play Deathspank.

        IMHO, this is a huge problem with Steam for those of us who have kids, and at the end of the day, it hurts their bottom line. Once my Steam library reached critical mass, it became a huge pain in the kiester. So Steam is the LAST place I go to buy a game now. Steam is the place where I use my Humble Bundle keys and that’s it. I generally don’t even bother with the “Summer Sale”, etc… Because it means I buy 4-5 new games and we have to take turns using the Steam account.

        I don’t know the answer… But I can sure shed light on the problem. I am not letting my young kids play on Steam without some supervision, but I’m not buying a game 4 times just so my kids can play without locking everyone else in the house out. I’m not asking for 4 people to be able to play Borderlands 2 at the same time, but I should be able to play Crusader Kings while my kid plays Half-Life. As a 42 year old lifelong gamer who cut his teeth on TRS-80s and Commodore 64′s, it really irks me to have to put up with this BS.

        Really, if people want free games, there’s better options than giving others access to your Steam library. On the other hand, Steam does not give me a way to let my kids play. It is actually FAR more convenient for me to get a pirated copy. Steam is depending on my sense of fair play to get developers paid. And you know what? Keep treating me like a thief and I might just do you a favor… I’ll let you be right.

        Let me have sub-accounts for my kids with no multi-player and messaging, and I’d be happy. Keeps them from dealing with abusive jerks, and restricts the account enough to be unpalatable to people who want to steal games but are too stupid to Torrent. Honestly, DRM has failed. The only people Steam is inconveniencing are it’s legitimate customers. Music pretty much comes DRM free now, easily paid for and downloaded, and it’s become hard to find on the Torrent Scene. Hmmmm….

    • Shuck says:

      I suspect that would be a little too good. Given the size of my Steam library, ten people could be gaming full time without ever running any of the games I have installed at any given time. That would start impinging on sales, so they’re not going to allow that.

    • morbiD says:

      After a borrower starts playing one of the lender’s games, I wonder what, if anything, stops the lender starting Steam up in offline mode and playing other games at the same time.

      • onsamyj says:

        I’m pretty sure Valve gonna disallow offline mode if you sharing/playing game shared with you.

        • jrodman says:

          Are they going to break offline mode more again?

          In other words, I set up my library to share games.
          I power down my computer.
          I unplug ethernet.
          I power up my computer.
          I run steam in offline mode. I play games.

          How are they going to prevent this exactly without going back to offline mode being a farce?

  3. subedii says:

    Here’s something I never expected to say: Steam has stolen a feature from the Xbox One

    Let’s be fair here. I’d say that Steam actually owes quite a significant debt to MS’s own XBox Live in terms of the features and systems it’s implemented over the years.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with taking systems that work. The next gen of consoles seem to be appropriating much that’s happening PC-side in-kind.

    • gryffinp says:

      Hell, they straight up stole Achievements, didn’t they?

      • SominiTheCommenter says:

        I though on the Xbone they were called Cheevos.

      • El Mariachi says:

        Xbox doesn’t have achievements any more?

        Because that’s what “stole” means. (Also a sort of fur scarf.)

        • The Random One says:

          Not true. If someone steals your identity you still have it.

          As Doug Adams once said: “Before [passive mainstream entertainment] came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport – the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for. We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.”

          The word “steal” has always meant “to take something without permission”. It never specifically meant that the person who it was taken from wouldn’t have it any more because it’s impossible for it to happen otherwise with physical objects. Digital media changed that: you can take something without permission while leaving a perfect copy. We never needed different words for “take something without permission” and “take something without permission and leaving its previous owner without it” because they were effectively equivalent, but now they aren’t any more and language hasn’t caught up.

          • Jaunt says:

            So, language hasn’t caught up to have a nuanced word for taking something while leaving a perfect copy in its place? First of all, I’m pretty sure that it’s been called Indiana Jonesing since Raiders of the Lost Ark came out. It’s either that, or something rather dirty. I always forget. I’ve never Indiana Jonesed either way. What I, and I suspect the vast, vast majority of internetizens do, is to make a perfect copy while leaving the originals quite safe and sound.

            Secondly, I have all sorts of permission to “take” the copies. That’s why people are making them available in the first place. What I don’t have is the permission of Some Folks (not the makers, but some middlemen) to make a copy of the object (or data) which my Many Friends gave them valuable currency in exchange for. Unless, of course, they only traded that currency for a license, in which case silly them.

            People have been “stealing” ideas from each other since probably the time ideas were invented. I’m pretty sure that we all quietly understand that it’s a metaphor, which I believe loops us back around to the original point you were making. Now, if your initial agitator had said they LITERALLY stole achievements, well…

          • Josh W says:

            It’s most like trespassing, weirdly enough:

            When you pirate a game you get access to something you wouldn’t otherwise have. You’re not trespassing in any real location, but an area of ideas has been marked out as “by invitation only”.

            Patents do the same thing, they give a specific company rights to set up and make money in a certain area of ideas. It’s like invention is this big frontier and people are putting flags down and claiming swathes of it.

      • airmikee99 says:

        If Steam stole Achievements from Xbox Live, then Microsoft stole them from the Amiga, E-Motion from 1990 had Achievements.

  4. maicus says:

    Basically less and less reasons to ever have to buy a console. Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

  5. wodin says:

    Still doesn’t solve my issue. I was sttupid and didn’t open a new steam account for my daughter..now when she is playing a game I can’t play mine. I wish they’d allow us to split the library in two and open a new steam account and transfer one half across.

    • Trelow says:

      Same here. However with the bundles and such my oldest has his own Steam account now that is growing. As soon as the other kids are old enough to be blessed with their own computers I’ll do the same with them.

      -Still though, this is a great step. I’ve got 600+ games on Steam. I can’ t play them all at once. or ever.

      -AH just rereread. Entire library at a time shared. Worthless to me except when I’m at work or out of town. Fart.

      • Shuck says:

        Yeah, I misread it at first and was amazed, then realized it was actually pretty worthless.

        • Baines says:

          You can still use it as a demo deal, or arranged play when you know you won’t be gaming.

          Like if you want to show of a game to a friend, you can share it and just do other stuff for an hour or two. Or share out your library while you are at work, or vacation, or whatever.

    • mechabuddha says:

      This is not an ideal solution, but have you tried offline mode? On the computer I normally use, I have Steam in online mode. On my wife’s computer, she has my account open but under offline mode. Granted, this only works for games that are either offline or don’t have online registration codes, but maybe this helps you out.

    • Molay says:

      As I understand it, you can create a new account for your daughter, then share your games with that new account. She will be able to access all those games you bought for her, without preventing you from playing your own.

      It sounds like she plays games you got for her specifically, which you don’t play, so this way of sharing should be pretty much perfect?

      I guess the savegames would be lost though, and any progress undone.

      Please correct me if I totally misunderstood the sharing system, but that’s how I understood it?

      Edit: I re-read, and yes, I totally misunderstood it. Was probably just wistful thinking…

      • wodin says:

        Thats what I thought at first and got excited..but no two people can’t be using the same library as each other at the same time.

        • Apocalypse says:

          It would be interesting if you can play someones else library while he plays yours. Technical this could be done if each of you has a second steam account anyway, so I don´t see much harm that this feature could do. And it would be super nice for families with several steam accounts and gaming computers.

    • Apocalypse says:

      Yeah, this was really a bad mistake of you. You could try to contact their support and ask politely if they can fix your mistake. But don´t put your hopes to high, while they can technical do this manually, the whole process is very vulnerable to exploits, so i guess they don´t want to do this on regular base.

      The other alternative naturally is to mark all her favorite games and try to buy them a second time on some steam sale to migrate all important games to her account. At least the good games that she still plays regularly should be worth to drop a few dollars to support them a little more.

      • LostInDaJungle says:

        Seriously…. We should just re-buy the games we already own on another account? Sure, lord knows families with kids have tons of extra cash laying around.

        And when your kid turns 16 you could just buy them another car even though you have one you’re not using. Otherwise, no one in the house can drive while he’s tooling around in his Chevette.

        It is not a mistake to buy games for your kids on your account… It’s as normal as apple pie. Am I supposed to give an 8 year old an unsupervised Steam account? Then we’ll write articles about how parents should monitor what their kids play…

        Seriously, Half-Life was a decent game, but I’m getting nauseated by the slurping sounds of fanbois sucking off Valve. An Ex-Microsoft employee has somehow talked the gaming community at large into loving DRM. What the hell is wrong with that picture?

  6. Metalfish says:

    At the mo’ this is basically not that different than (the rather less advised) sharing your password with someone, right?

    • darkChozo says:

      Well, here’s some advantages, randomly generated from my brain:

      * You don’t have to share your password or any information stored on your account, and there’s no risk of getting scammed and getting locked out.
      * You don’t have to manually log in to the shared account every time you want to play from the shared library.
      * You can access the shared library and your own library without having to relog.
      * More graceful loss of Steam/game access when someone else wants to play on the library.
      * There’s a master account so you can share your games without losing the ability to play them yourself.
      * User-specific data (saves, achivements, what have you) are stored separately.

      • Chalky says:

        * You don’t risk getting your account banned for sharing it, which they will do if the login keeps getting used all over the place.

    • Apocalypse says:

      It makes achievements individual again, which is nice if you like achievements. As well cloud saves work properly this way. And it is more convenient to use, and steam should be all about convenience, as well it is a good sale method for steam as it encourage to pay games you like. In essence it encourage sales just like borrowing games should do, and still eliminates the aftermarket which again encourage publishers to do good sales.

  7. LionsPhil says:

    Oh neat, they eased off slightly on an artificial restriction.

  8. Boosh says:

    I’d say it’s about as tiny as tiny steps can be…in the right direction. It’s utterly gimped if you cannot share the library concurrently with friends/family. Cunningly designed to boost sales, not damage them which will likely be the reason it stops short of ever being anything like useful.
    Meanwhile 300 of my games lay dormant and completely useless, whilst I’m playing anything else.

  9. Sheng-ji says:

    I wonder if the friend has to remain “always on”, I don’t see how it would work otherwise.

    • Baines says:

      If the friend could play while offline, then the booting mechanic wouldn’t work. It would be easy enough for Valve to make it so that a borrower has to stay online to “borrow” a title.

      The question is how will Valve deal with the lender playing offline.

      • bills6693 says:

        They can’t really deal with this problem. But it is already something that you can do, easily.

        As mentioned above, its the same as giving your password to someone but more convenient. And when you are sharing with family – which I do, and he is the only person I share my account with and vice versa, if we both wanted to play from the same library one of us can simply go offline then the other log in and play.

        What it imporves is now if I simply have steam logged on, but not in any games – as steam auto-logs on every time I start up my laptop even if I don’t intend to game – it doesn’t boot the other person or fail my login.

        But yes, you will still be able to play offline. But its always been the case and really they can’t stop it.

  10. LordNeidhart says:

    I wonder what these regional limitations mean though. I really want to share my library with my girlfriend, but she lives in North America and I don’t…

    • subedii says:

      Presumably if a game’s not available in that region (either because of release date or just in general), then they won’t have access to it.

      I imagine this could also throw a few hiccups with countries like Australia and Germany for example, since games tend to get ‘modified’ releases.

      • bills6693 says:

        Australia and germany was what I was thinking. I have a friend in germany and I think often games are slightly changed and thus regional to germany only, so no sharing of either version of that game (me to her or her to me).

        I think the most affected countries by regional restrictions are:
        Germany
        Australia
        Russia
        China
        Korea

        But between the US and a ‘normal’ (i.e. not germany and probably not russia) European country – which I am going to make the assumption you are in – there are very few regional restrictions.

    • Ernesto says:

      I don’t think it would work that way. Because: “Once authorized, the lender’s library of Steam games become available for others on the machine to access, download and play. ”

      Apparently you can share among users but not among computers.

  11. Viroso says:

    Doesn’t it all sound too good to be true though? I have some 200 games on Steam, my brother has 10. Would he just be able to play all those games? A friend of mine has 254, he has Bioshock Infinite which I want to buy, would I just get to play it, no strings attached?

    • darkChozo says:

      The major downside is that you can’t play Bioshock when your friend is playing anything else. It’s basically the same rules as playing on a shared console, only your friend is now your big brother and can kick you off to play himself whenever he wants.

      • Viroso says:

        Oooh yeah

        CAN A FRIEND AND I SHARE A LIBRARY AND BOTH PLAY AT THE SAME TIME?
        No, a shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time.

        I was thinking a shared game, not a shared library. Still sounds way too good. There’s gotta be more limitations than this.

      • Stevostin says:

        It’s an ultraminor downside. Chances of overlaping are really small. You can already see what your friends are playing. They very rarely play the same thing you do.

        • kirby_freak says:

          If I read correctly, if you want to play ANY game you own, it kicks whoever’s “borrowing” a game of yours, or gives them like 3 minutes to finish up. That way it can’t be overly abused.

          • Stevostin says:

            That’s really not what I get but if you’re right, that changes everything.

          • bills6693 says:

            (can’t reply to the reply to this) yes, that is correct. There is an FAQ over on the steam group, it reiterates this. It is clear that this is the case.

            So if your friend owns Bioshock Infinite and also owns FTL, if you are playing his Bioshock on ‘loan’, and then he boots up FTL, it will tell you that his library is now being used by him and you have a couple of minutes to save the game or to purchase the game for yourself.

    • Trinnet says:

      Well, if you have 200 games then you probably spend a fair amount of your time playing games – your brother can only play games from your library when you’re not playing any of the games in your library, so there’s a strong incentive for him to buy so that he can play at any time.

      It seems to me that they’ve found a nice balance between letting you share games and not discouraging purchases.

      • Viroso says:

        Me and my friend, the dude with 254 games, somehow we don’t play games all that often, specially not simultaneously. I mean not as often as you’d imagine for someone who has 200 games. On top of that we live in different time zones, so that makes it even less common for us to play at the same time.

        Maybe that’s where the region restrictions kick in?

  12. Xiyng says:

    Umm, it’s a family plan. It’s meant for people who have to share the same computer, not for a bunch of friends scattered all over the world. I don’t really see why my friends should be able to play the games I own without any real limits. One purchase, one player at a time. Of course I would like it to be so that I can let my friends play my games at the same time as I do, but I don’t see how it could in any way be seen as their right, as something they definitely should be able to do.

    • sirdavies says:

      Well, if instead of sharing entire libraries you could share specific games, it would be like lending a game to a friend for a while irl. The fact that you can share your entire library when your friends/family are obviously gonna be playing one game at a time seems kinda ridiculous and just brings attention to how worse this actually is compared to just giving a game to a friend and still having your whole collection available.

      • Xiyng says:

        Ooh, that’s a nice point! Totally forgot that one. That said, it’s still called a familiy plan, which purpose their solution serves just perfectly. Of course I would hope they add a ‘friend plan’ as well, but that’s pretty doubtful. It would definitely eat into sales too much, as much as I’d like to see the feature.

        • The Random One says:

          It actually feels like it fits a lot better friends all over the world than family. Unless you are all using the same computer your family will likely be playing game at the same time, since you’re likely to have leisure time at the same… time. Whereas if you have a friend in Australia and only open up Steam when you’re home from work you two will almost never get on each other’s grill.

        • LintMan says:

          The family plan doesn’t serve my family perfectly. I have several children and several PC’s. I buy games for all of them to use. I’d be perfectly OK with a “only one person at a time” enforcement, PER GAME. But I don’t want to have to micro-manage steam accounts for each child on multiple computers, worrying about things like “Joe’s account has Bioshock and he’s done with it, but now Maria wants it so she needs to install and run it as Joe on her computer”. So we have one family account and have to use offline mode on all but one computer at a time. (Yes, this is legal and is what Steam support told me to do when I contacted them about this).

          So anyway, this new “family plan” doesn’t solve anything for me, since it basically revolves around only one person playing at a time on any any game on any computer tied to that account. Totally worthless.

          Actually, I’m guessing this is going to be worse than worthless because they likely will implement some new security around this “family plan” that will to prevent my current single account offline-mode method from working anymore.

          • bills6693 says:

            I don’t know how they would stop you using the current method you use.

            Offline mode has to stay, because of the huge problems before it was around. They are not going to restrict offline mode. They also have to think of those with bad or no internet at home, or if you go on holiday for a few weeks. Or more so if you are in the military, deployed overseas, or on a ship or a submarine. Those people spend months of their lives in relative boredom, they will spend the money on games when they are home, but they want to be able to play them. This caused the same uproar with XBone for the military – that if you were deployed, you couldn’t use the console. Now they fixed that, and steam fixed it a while ago with offline mode. They will not restrict it, and thus they can’t restrict your use of it.

        • Baines says:

          I believe Microsoft called it a family plan as well, but they were pretty open about it being used to let friends play your games.

    • Svant says:

      Just one problem, me and my SO have our own computers, if we had kids they would most likely have their own computer, we also have a computer running big screen by the TV… So it is not really any more useful for us just because we are a family. Still better than having to use the same steam account everywhere but not really anything new.

  13. Hunchback says:

    Damn, that’s awesome! I’ve been hoping they’ll find a way to implement such a feature for quite a while now. It only makes sense, i mean back in the day when we bought physical copies of games, we could share them by lending the disc…

    With that new feature, one of the very few problems i have with digital purchased software is going to be resolved…

    • fish99 says:

      Of course it’s not the equivalent of being able to lend a game to a friend, because they’ll get yanked out of said game when you play any of your steam games. So lend your friend Skyrim and that’s potentially 200+ hrs when you can’t use your whole Steam library which could be hundreds of games and most of the games you own.

  14. Fatikis says:

    ” Steam has stolen a feature from the Xbox One,”

    You should probably do your research. Valve was working on this long before Microsoft said anything about it.

    Way to journalism.

  15. Wulfram says:

    Seems like it’s mostly handy because it means you can let someone else play your games on a shared computer without having a shared account. Otherwise it would get annoying to get booted whenever they other person wanted to play a game. I guess you could also use it to effectively demo some games.

    If you split up your game purchases between multiple accounts, it could be much more useful. Is that allowed under the terms and conditions?

    • sirdavies says:

      Why wouldn’t it? That’s the definition of “sharing”.

    • mouton says:

      Still more hassle than just torrenting shit.

      • Boffin says:

        But far more legal, surprisingly.

        Kind of like leeching your neighbours wi-fi vs setting up your own

        • mouton says:

          Abusing the system of sharing to spread your purchases among friends is, while technically legal, not “legit” at all. If one wants games for free, one should just honestly torrent them, instead of weaseling their way through the sharing system and pretending they are “legal”.

          • sirdavies says:

            They wouldn’t be “weaseling their way through” anything. That feature has been created by valve for the sole purpose of sharing games with friends and family. It’s 100% legit and legal.

          • mouton says:

            The poster I replied to considered splitting your game purchases across different accounts, thus making it possible for a bunch of people to share games without the “no playing at the same time” limitations. That’s weaseling through the system to get things for free, while maintaining the illusion of being legit.

      • airmikee99 says:

        Unless you live in the US and use one of the major ISP’s (the big 5 that cover 75% of Americans) that monitor your traffic for illegal downloads.

        https://torrentfreak.com/isp-six-strikes-anti-piracy-scheme-120803/

  16. goettel says:

    “Once authorized, the lender’s library of Steam games become available for others on the machine to access, download and play.”

    So, you can share games on the same computer only?

    • fish99 says:

      That’s what I was wondering after reading that sentence, but if you check the FAQ (http://store.steampowered.com/sharing) it seems to suggest the owner of a steam account can share his whole library (with the exception of games that use 3rd party services) on 10 other PCs. If true that’s awesome-

      “Is there a limit to the number of devices I can authorize to share my Library?
      Yes. A Steam account may authorize Family Sharing on up to 10 devices at a given time.”

      If it was just on the same PC then it’d be mostly pointless IMO.

      • Josh W says:

        Only tend to use steam on a single computer, but can you install the same steam game simultaneously on multiple PCs?

        I ask because it seems to allow other people to use games that you have already installed on that machine via your steam account.

        -edit- did my own research, looks like you can.

        This provides an alternative intermediate solution to the “child friendly games” problem; install only those games on that device that you would be happy with them playing, then give them full family member access. Then keep the adult game PC separate.

  17. Vagrant says:

    Hopefully this provides a more elegant solution to using Big PIcture mode, which is currently a bit of a pain to bother with.

  18. Shodex says:

    I hate to be ‘that guy’, especially with news so great, but my Steam account is still loaded with shitty games I don’t want to play. Letting somebody else have access to a load of shitty games they don’t want to play fixes nothing.

    I’d be estatic for refunds at 50% of the price you paid or something like that. Even if it’s just money going back into my Steam wallet. Still this is very good news, since now my friend can’t weasel his way out of playing The Walking Dead.

    On a semi-related note you all should try this out:
    http://steamdb.info/calculator/

    • sirdavies says:

      That’s handy to know the total hours spent, but everything else is kinda useless since there’s no way in hell I spent 17,99 on Crayon Physix Deluxe.

  19. Shiny says:

    Great. Expect sales of all titles that aren’t designed for long-term play (non-AAA, single player, etc.) to start dying off as people get organized in such a way that they have to buy as few games as possible.

    • Grygus says:

      Paying for games has always been optional. I don’t know exactly what features of the human mind are driving this industry, but obligation is already not among them. This will likely lead to more sales, not less.

      • Stevostin says:

        The whole Steam things works because it’s simply easier to buy during a steam sale at very affordable price than to crack. Now if it’s even easier not to pay, well, what do you expect ?

    • mondomau says:

      That won’t happen – it’s not very clear from the article, but this only allows you to share your library en masse. You cant let someone play one game while you play something else – as soon as you log in / boot a game, your guest will be ejected from their session.

  20. wererogue says:

    Without controls on which games can be accessed, this is pretty much useless to me, except potentially for giving my kids their own profile on games which only support one save. Ignoring the steam age restrictions on accounts for a moment, there’s no way I’m letting a 5 year old have access to Hotline Miami, and there’s even less way I’d let a 14-year-old – the temptation would be way too strong.

  21. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Couple of things:

    1) Offline mode. I’m going to assume the borrower must be online to access the shared library, but does the lender? If you’re mostly a single-player fan, then you could easily share most of your purchases with 1 other person who can access those games without worrying much about hitting that limit.

    2) The rare games that don’t use Steam except for distribution. Think about Europa Universalis 4. You need Steam for updates, but the game itself doesn’t actually require Steam to launch. Couldn’t that mean that 10 people can get the game for the price of one? Just let one person at a time update, and voila!

    • The Random One says:

      If you mean EUIV doesn’t use Steamworks, you’d be correct, but that’s equivalent to just copying the files to a floppy or fifty and giving them to a friend. You can do that to any game that doesn’t use Steamworks, and while this might mean that your friend will be able to download the game files from Steam directly, it’s not that much of a change.

      Conversely, if games without Steamworks are specifically banned, shared libraries would be a suprisingly effective way to know which games are using it. (Granted, if that’s the cause Steam would simply pop a generic “This game cannot be lended” warning when you tried to run them or just not display them at all, but you’d still know that every game that could not be lended and wasn’t published by a big pub likely doesn’t use Steamworks. There might still be a few false positives from paranoid devs, but it’d be easier to narrow your searches.)

    • HadToLogin says:

      1) If I must be online, does this mean whole thing is worthless since my brother won’t be able to play on our PC with his account in my games and he’ll still have to play on my account?

    • gunny1993 says:

      From the wording it looks like if the lender is online (i.e. steam is active) the borrower won’t be able to access the shared library.

  22. dmoe says:

    Awesome.

  23. wodin says:

    Would be cool if you could sell your old game son steam marketplace. However then Valve would loose money.

    • Comrade Roe says:

      Valve already gets a small cut of the Vintage Hats you sell, as well as the game maker if I’m not mistaken, which I might very well be. This would be why you don’t get the full amount you sell it for, but rather for 2 cents less at least.

  24. Stevostin says:

    This seems like a dangerous idea. I can see a heap of people selling their lending slots on paypal, industry profit going down the drain or being compensated by prices raise.

    But maybe I am wrong and this will just be as cool as it looks. Still, I don’t see any point anymore to offer games to friends or family. Which was a decent part of my budget on steam.

    Also steam UI is already painful to deal with 50 games. Lending ALL OF THEM by default will make the whole thing even more obvious.

    • Apocalypse says:

      The normal way to handle huge libraries of steam games is just to filter them, no need to show games that are not installed anyway most of the time.

    • belgand says:

      It’s an alphabetized list, how is that hard to deal with? It’s the exact same method I use to catalog console games, CDs, books… everything else in my life. And with only 50 games? I honestly don’t see the problem even with a library of over 200.

      • Boris the Impregnable says:

        Me neither. Plus, you can just start typing in library view and it’ll snap to the title you type.

      • Stevostin says:

        Are you real ?

        It’s a list handling dozens if not hundreds of items. Still you can’t select more than one at a time. Want to put all of those W40k games & extension in another rep ? Boy, you’re here for a ride. Oh wait, you’re changing your groups and have 20 item to move ? This will be fun ! And where is that game you bought yesterday but didn’t install immediately ? Well, somewhere. Hope you paid attention to its title. It’s not like there are plenty of indie cheap titles bough on impulse without really knowing them.

        Seriously, we have our OS dealing with exactly this kind of needs at a level unheard of steam GUI designers for two decades now. All of our Smartphone all do this like a charm. It seems hard to picture how the game list could be less practical than it is right now. Compared to it, even Skyrim’s inventory is more practical. At least things are automatically sorted by category.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Well okay, if you have Alzheimers and can’t remember the things you bought a day ago, then yeah, this is a major problem.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Exactly this happened to me yesterday after I bought 3 bundles :/ I’ve categorised all my games now. Still can’t find the game that came with AI wars in the Arcen Bundle.

          • Apocalypse says:

            @sheng
            Tidalis, A Valley Without Wind, and A Valley Without Wind

            If you paid more than the average than you got as well Skyward Collapse, the DLC Skyward Collapse: Nihon no Mura, and Shattered Haven.

          • Sheng-ji says:

            Ahhh, it was the expansion for Skyward collapse! I was reading it as similar to Ni no kuni and for some reason couldn’t see it on the list or the bundle site in the same way! Thank you very much!!

        • MellowKrogoth says:

          Agreed, Steam’s GUI is pure shit, especially if you consider in how much money they’re swimming and for how long the service has existed. Also, Steam’s slow as hell (especially on shutdown) and consumes way too much memory for its own good.

          It only looks good because the competition is, so far, worse.

    • gunny1993 says:

      … Who would be dumb enough to pay for a lending slot to be shared with 10 other people?

      And one that can be easily revoked with no legal rights for the purchaser?

  25. obd2works says:

    XBOX has been outdated

  26. DOLBYdigital says:

    So I think you can share on different PCs as long as you approve that machine. I know my bro who lives in another state would like to play some of the 100s of games I have. I don’t play that much and would love to be able to let him ‘borrow’ my stash for the night or two. Either way, thanks Valve!

    Another cool improvement would be the ability to give a game you own to another account (and even set a price if desired). So if you beat the game or just don’t play it, you can give or sell it to others.

  27. Chaos5061 says:

    This seems a waste to me. The only way this to me would be any good is if you can play a game from your friends library while they play a game from yours. And there is no clarification of that.

    They’ve already said you can’t play a game in your library while a friend is playing. Even if they play a totally different game from you. Such a waste.

  28. Distec says:

    It would allow my roommate to play a few games I’ve been wanting him to try, but I don’t feel like setting him up with MY Steam account. We have different schedules, plus a 360 in the living room, so I’m not too concerned about my game library’s availability at any time. The system’s not as open as I’d like it to be, but expecting too much more at this point would have been unrealistic.

    I approve.

    • Mabswer says:

      well, if we keep yelling, loud enough and long enough this might change. it is still in beta and functionality might change

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Yeah, actually this is GREAT to try and convince our friends to get games we like, as long as gaming schedules differ. Which is probably why Valve are implementing it, to let us be better sales agents :P . But for that purpose it would be nice to allow at least one person at a time to play a game while we’re playing a different one.

      As far as exploits go, I imagine people on the various trading forums will try to rent their accounts while they’re on vacation, in exchange for games/tf2 keys/cards.

  29. SkittleDiddler says:

    Well, at least they’re trying.

  30. Wedge says:

    Maybe this way I can have the downstairs computer “linked” to my Steam account without logging me off when I go onto it? But then cloud saves don’t get shared, so meh.

  31. Kadayi says:

    I feel sorry for all those 2 hour game makers.

  32. Mattsetback says:

    The wave of negativty here seems a bit much, even for a Valve story. They’ve unexpectedly allowed you to try out your friend’s games. It’s not totally ideal, and it is clearly not intended as a method where you never have to buy a game again, but calling it ‘worthless’ and ‘a waste’ seems a bit over entitled.
    Also, first post, hi.

  33. racccoon says:

    STEAM WANTS TO BE THE GREAT SPY NETWORK. you are all mugs if you fall for it..
    Facebook sucked everyone in, so now will STEAM.
    There’s a future hidden agenda here.
    I use STEAM because I’m forced by their monopoly, that’s it.

  34. dare says:

    I rather like this news. I’d like it even more if the access limitation was game specific instead of library specific, but even as it is, I can use it. I expect Valve to refine it even more, and make it better, because that seems to be what they usually do with these things.

  35. MarcP says:

    Yet one more reason for developers to go always online, MMO, MOBA, experience points and unlocks, yet one less reason to make quality single player games. Let the shortsighted consumers applaud.

  36. sophof says:

    I guess this was the way the wind was blowing, but I’m still really surprised this is actually happening.

  37. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    This is kind of pointless unless we can share multiplayer games and play them together

    • Vinraith says:

      My thought exactly. This is really just sanctioned account sharing, one could already accomplish the same thing by letting a friend/family member have your account credentials.

  38. GeminiathXL says:

    Back in the day, we used to lend eachother our games all the time.

    So, with that said….when did this become a DRM issue? Or are we just going to go full-conspiracy on every topic containing the word “online” in it?

    Get a grip already. This is great.

  39. Ny24 says:

    and you can learn a valuable lesson about the value of sharing and friendship before all of your dumb friends

    That’s funny!

  40. frightlever says:

    To the couple of percent of Steam users for whom this is useful, I salute your good fortune.

  41. Deano2099 says:

    RPS really need to get clarification on how the hell this is going to work…

    • dE says:

      This image cleared up any confusion (and hope) I had about this:
      http://i.imgur.com/ChSbAbu.png

      I think it’s pretty clear how it’s supposed to work now. In essence, you can still chat with your friends while your brother/ghost/alter ego is playing games on your account. It’s essentially acknowleding the account sharing within families and this is their attempt to make it go away.

  42. MellowKrogoth says:

    I was actually hoping that Valve would implement something of the sort. Great news. While not as generous as I was hoping, it means that people of my family can at least access my Steam library while I’m away without having to tell them my password, or forcing me to log off (I stay online most of the time for chatting and trading).

    I’d still like some way of trying MP games with my girlfriend without having to buy her a copy of the game, though. Usually I’m not sure enough she’ll like a game to buy it up front, so we just don’t play that and go play something with local coop.

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