Thanks to Valve’s always exciting seasonal sales, most Steam users are sitting on a giant stack of digital games at any given time. The majority of Steam users love the frequent opportunities to pick up PC games at discounted prices, but there are still many consumers that are unhappy with the inability to share games with their friends. Thankfully, Valve has heard those complaints loud and clear and is ready to unveil a new feature that will improve Steam’s library sharing abilities.
The new Steam Family Sharing service feature will allow users to share their library of games with friends and family members. Valve plans to roll out a limited beta of the feature starting next week.
Once the Steam Family Sharing feature is in place, participants will be able to share their libraries with up to 10 different Steam members. Consumers who recently filled up their library with goodies during the Greenlight Sale should have plenty of material to share with their buddies.
Any user will be able to request access to a friend’s library and Steam will check to see if the requester’s computer has correct authorization. Once a friend’s computer has been authorized, they will have full access to all eligible games in the library. The new player will also be able to earn their own Steam achievements and save their progress to the Steam Cloud.
There are, of course, a few minor limitations. Games that require a third-party key, account, or subscription will not be eligible. As for DLC, users will be able to access DLC that the original owner has purchased, but will not be able to purchase additional DLC unless they own the base game.
Additionally, only one user will be able to access a game library at a time and Valve made sure that the owner of the library will always receive priority. If someone else is playing a game when the owner logs on, Steam will prompt the borrower to buy the game or log off to make room to the owner. The user will have a few minutes to make a decision before getting the boot.
Anna Sweet of Valve explained that the Family Sharing feature was created in direct response to customer feedback.
“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. Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests.”
PC, Mac, and Linux gamers everywhere are most likely celebrating Valve’s response to their cries for the ability to share. Even the most pessimistic gamers out there will probably have to agree that this is great news of the PC gaming community. It will be interesting to track sales in the months after the official release of Steam Family Sharing and find out how often a borrow leads to a purchase.
In addition to empowering PC gamers, the announcement of the Steam Family sharing plan also gives next-gen console manufacturers motivation to revisit their upcoming policies concerning digital distribution. Although Microsoft has yet to confirm the return of a next-gen digital shared library, there are still plenty of future Xbox One owners holding out hope that the feature will be resurrected.
Interested parties can sign up for the Steam Family Sharing Beta by joining the Family Sharing group.
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