Valve’s Steam Family Sharing – What’s it about?

By Prarthito Maity , Updated Sep 12, 2013 12:35 PM EDT

Valve has announced a brand new feature called Steam Family Sharing that will allow the player’s friends and family to share his or her Steam games.

As described by Valve, Steam Family Sharing, ”a new service feature that allows close friends and family members to share their libraries of Steam games, is coming to Steam, a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC, Mac, and Linux games and software.”

Steam Family Sharing has been designed by Valve “for close friends and family members” to play each other's Steam-based titles, with each player offered the option to earn their own Steam achievements and store their in-game saves and application data to the Steam cloud. The feature can be enabled by authorizing a shared computer.

“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,” Anna Sweet of Valve stated. “Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests.”

The Family Sharing option can be enabled in one of two ways – Either the player can locally enable sharing in Account Settings, with Family Sharing and Devices, or remotely respond to a user’s Steam request to share the player’s previously installed games via email.

However, this doesn’t mean that all games can be dealt with in the same way. The company states that “due to technical limitations, some Steam games may be unavailable for sharing. For example, titles that require an additional third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play cannot be shared between accounts.”

For those who are expecting to share a library with their friends and wanting both to play at the same time, the company has confirmed that a shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time.

“Once a device is authorized, the lender's library of Steam games becomes available for others on the machine to access, download, and play. Though simultaneous usage of an account library is not allowed, the lender may always access and play his games at any time. If he decides to start playing when a friend is borrowing one of his games, the friend will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing,” the post adds.

The new Steam Family Sharing feature is currently expected to be available next week in limited beta on Steam.

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