Steam Family Sharing

Steam Announces Family Sharing

Coming Soon: Players who share computers can also share their Steam games

September 11, 2013 – 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. The feature will become available next week, in limited beta on Steam.

Steam Family Sharing is designed for close friends and family members to play one another’s games while each earning their own Steam achievements and storing their own saves and application data to the Steam cloud. It’s all 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,” explained Anna Sweet of Valve. “Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests.”

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’s 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.

For more information about Steam Family Sharing and the beta program, please visit

I want to try this! How can I join the Family Sharing Beta?

To express interest in beta participation, join the Family Sharing Group on the Steam community. The Family Sharing beta will begin in mid-September, when a thousand Steam accounts from this group will be granted access to share their Steam libraries. You’ll know you’ve been selected when you receive an email from Steam inviting you to try out the new feature.

How do I enable Family Sharing on my computer?

Family Sharing is enabled in one of two ways: You can either locally enable sharing in Account Settings, with Family Sharing & Devices, or remotely respond to a user’s Steam request to share your previously installed games via email.

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.

Can I share specific games, or do I have to share my whole library?

Libraries are shared and borrowed in their entirety.

Can all Steam games be shared with friends and family?

No, 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.

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.

When I authorize a device to lend my library to others, do I limit my own ability to access and play my games?

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.

Sometimes the games I’ve borrowed are unavailable for me to play. Why?

Borrowed games are only available on devices that have been authorized by the lender. Borrowed games will be unavailable on even an authorized device when the lender’s library is currently in use on another computer.

Who owns and can access the DLC and in-game content associated with a borrowed title?

A borrower will have access to the lender’s DLC, but borrowers may not purchase DLC for a base game they don’t own. Any player may purchase, trade, earn, or otherwise acquire in-game content while playing a game, but in-game items cannot be shared between accounts. These items remain the property of the account that purchased or acquired them, whether borrowing or lending the base game.

Can region-restricted content be shared across regions?

No, any region restrictions will remain in place when lending or borrowing content.

Will I be punished for any cheating or fraud conducted by other users while playing my games?

Your Family Sharing privileges may be revoked if your library is used by borrowers to conduct cheating or fraud. We recommend you only authorize familiar computers you know to be secure.

It will be interesting to see is how they will handle cheating/hacks and VAC bans. Does the lender (host) account get pinged when a “family member” cheats in a MP VAC protected game?

That’s what I was thinking too Rachel. Looking forward to this feature, as long as I don’t have to worry about kiddos downloading a cheat & VAC banning my account.


The world has turn 180 degreas with this. Down is up, One is Zero. Kickass!

Just added the current FAQ to the O/P. Answers a bunch of questions.

Signed myself and my mom up for the beta. She only has a handful of games on her Steam account, and even fewer that work on her current OS (Ubuntu), but if she can access my games without any hassles, it’ll work great for her.

It still doesn’t do what I really would like it to do. I’d really like to be able to let my son play one of my Steam games on one PC while I play another on my rig.

Right, it’s of minimal value for families. Right now, if my son want to play Skyrim, I log out of Steam on my computer and he logs me in on his computer and plays. The only difference with this will be the achievements, really.

Right, and there’s no particular reason why they shouldn’t offer that, as long as they’re different games-- each license only allows one simultaneous player, of course. With the library-wide restriction it’s not particularly useful.

This comes back to the best way to use Steam; sign up for a separate account for each game. But that’s a total pain in the ass.

Still encouraging, though. Baby steps.

Use Steam offline mode. For actual families living in the same building that’s easy to manage. You and/or your son starts Steam in offline mode and can play while the other is in online mode and can play all on the same account.

This is still pretty cool though. Especially for loaning/extended demoing games with friends and family. Offline mode definitely works better if you’re all in the same house though.

This is my thought on it as well. Valve probably had a hell of a time convincing publishers to go along with any sharing, but once they can show positive metrics they can push for a policy that’s more consumer friendly. Like you said though, baby steps.

Wait, so only one person can be playing a game on my Steam account at a time? I took this to mean I could play Game A and others in my family could play Games B, C, and D.

The only advantage this has over just letting my kids log in under my account is that they wouldn’t be able to buy games with my account. I guess if that’s a concern this is nice but it’s not very interesting otherwise.

It does offer separate cloud saves and achievements. That doesn’t mean much to me, but I’m sure there are others that like it.

I guess it’s better than violating the user agreement by sharing the account the old way.

Or trade your items, or accept friends/scam stuff, or delete your saved games…

I actually think this is kind of cool. I can “lend” out my library to a friend if they want to check a game or two out that I’ve been talking about. Presumably I can now do this without sharing out passwords, which would be a huge plus.

Just why exactly do you assume that someone would get your entire account or unrestricted access to it? All they would get, is, some additional games (the ones allowed to be lent and ones they do not have) added to their own Steam account. It would be not unlike a free to play weekend, for example. That’s all. Case in point - Awesomenauts. That game has a free to play event happening, right now. People who don’t already own it, just had it magically appear in their Steam library. It will disappear in a few more days when the event ends. It’s sharing games, not accounts. Geez! Also, read the O/P as I have added the entire current FAQ, which answers a bunch of questions.

Huh, yeah, that is a good idea, all these folks ask me about these space games I have and such, now I can actually “lend” them out so they can try 'em themselves…

Rachel Brown: I think Gigglemoo was saying those as examples of things someone would be able to do if you let them log into your account (as Mark was talking about) that you can’t do with Family Sharing. As in, more reasons to use Family Sharing over the old method.

Just realized I’m not sure how they handle multiple people being lended the same account. According to the FAQ it’s pretty clear that if someone’s playing your games you can still launch your own games whenever you want, and other people playing them will get a message saying they’ve got a few minutes to either buy the game or quit. But what about if two third parties are playing your games at the same time? Can any borrower blow any other borrower out of the water so you get endless Steam wars of people launching your games? Do the people borrowing games not count toward that, so you can have multiple people playing your borrowed games at the same time? Is it first come first serve so as soon as you’re out of a game, the first borrower to launch a game gets in and locks the other borrowers out?

I’m also curious what (If any) personal information it shares with people you’re giving access to your library. Your name? Your Steam account’s name (Not community name)? A listing of all the other people you’ve given access to your library? If they just get your Steam community name and nothing else I’d be happy with it. I’d be more uncomfortable with the rest.

Won’t do me much direct game-playing good since I buy ridiculous piles of games as it is (Since I only play PC and almost always only buy games during sales I’ve amassed quite a pile over the years) but it’d be cool to be able to give my buddies access to my 1,100-odd Steam games.

I think that if I’m not comfortable enough with a person for them to know personal stuff about me, then I’m not going to be comfortable enough to let them have free access to my Steam library. Especially when I’m limited to only sharing with up to 10 devices/people.

That said, I can’t think of any reason why sharing your library with someone would allow them to access personal details that wouldn’t ordinarily be available to just regular people on your Steam friends list. There’s no reason or benefit to them knowing any of that information.