Steam Family Sharing


Did some more Steam sharing testing. I took a game from my buddy’s list on my ok’d computer and tried moving it to another PC using my same account to see if I could get it rolling.

First method I tried was packing it up using the “Steam backup” feature and then installing on the other machine. It recognized the installer but asked for a CD key to unpack it. No dice.
Second method was moving the game directory and .acf file to the appropriate folders on the other computer, then starting Steam in offline mode (Which is usually how I move crap around on my local machines for Steam anyway). It DID recognize the game and showed it on the list, but under the “Unrecognized source” categorization and refused to launch. If I started Steam in online mode it would correctly label it as “Bruticis’s library” (Which is what it would on my main PC) and show the game, but it wouldn’t launch and the only option it gives is to purchase the game.

Summary, even though the glorious god-Gaben is generous and lets you play shared games in offline mode, you can only do it on the machine that was ok’d for it in the first place. Without resorting to actual cracks and shit of course. But if you’re going to go that far you may as well go full pirate.


Appears there’s some bugginess with buying games that are in a borrowed library. Buddy who’s loaning me his games bought Dark Void and Lost Planet during this Capcom sale, and I decided I was going to pick them up too. When I tried buying them for myself, Steam gave me the “You already own some games in this order!” error message and wouldn’t let me go through with the order (However it didn’t mark either game as already being owned, which it normally would). So then I bought both games as giftable Steam inventory copies and then went to my inventory and tried adding them, and it tells me “Limit exceeded”.

All I can figure is it’s throwing a fit because it thinks I already own them from the shared library, even though I hadn’t installed or played either of 'em. As far as I know this is the first time I’ve tried buying something that was listed in a shared library.


Steam streaming stuff just showed up in the latest beta client. You have to edit an .xml file to get access to it so it isn’t really general consumption yet, but all the UI stuff is functional. Once you get both machines in and connected it correctly recognizes what the hosting machine has installed and gives you a streaming play button, but trying to launch anything doesn’t work.


This thing is now active in my account.

It seems you can choose if share all games of a few of them. You must authorize computers (seems manually, by logging on them?). With this thing active Steam have two modes “Kids go away!” and “Family mode”. In the Kids go away mode the icon is red, and I suppose kids can’t play the games, in the family mode I suppose all users can play the games.


I am testing this thing with my brother.

My experiment:

  • I have not found a way to send him a email to add him or something.
  • I have tried to make him log in one of my computers with his accoun, then I have loged with mine and authorized his account: the result is nothing, he don’t see my games on his account.
  • I have tried to login on his computer and authorize his computer: Success!, now all my games show on his account + his games.
  • When I play any game, he receive a warning about me playing the same game than him, with 5 minutes to save and exit. We have not waited these 5 min, but I suppose steam do what it says in the message.
  • When we play the same game, he receive the same message.


To allow a family member to use all your games when you are not using your account, he have to enable family mode. Then you login on his computer and authorize his computer and his account. When he login again, he will see all your games. If you play one of the shared games, your family friend will be quit from whatever shared game he is playing.

The unlocking/locking mode for family mode seems both very nagging/useless. It don’t seems to activating deactivating it have any effect (other than blocking big parts of Steam when is active), so maybe I don’t understand the system completelly yet.

Family mode seems to work effectively as a “protect the childrens” system for Steam. With it a dad could control what parts of Steam a children can use, and lock him from playing. So is somewhat a hybrid “parental control”/“sharing games”.


Reviving this topic just to say how shitty Family Sharing still is. How on earth can they still not allow people to play different games at the same time? I bought games in a bundle and added the keys to my account so my wife could play them while I play something else. “But wait, no good!”, says Steam. “You can’t play one game while she plays a completely unrelated game at the same time! How dare you!”


It’s completely intentional, and makes perfect sense - we’re talking about a platform with $60 games, not iOS and Android with their eight billion free/$1 games. As usual, some historical bad apples ruined this for everyone forever - on PS3, where the restrictions are significantly less lax (and used to be even less so), it was rather common for people to purchase a game on a single account, activate that account on multiple other systems, and share a single purchase of a full-price title across four players on separate consoles, with no restrictions for simultaneous use.

For its intended purpose, Steam Family Sharing has been working very well for me! My girlfriend has been playing through the copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider I got from the Humble Monthly, and while she takes a break from that, I’ve been idling for card drops.


But if you are playing different games, how does this relate, at all? That’s what’s so hard to understand.


Is there any reason not to set Steam to offline mode for one computer? Does that work?


Unless it’s changed, you couldn’t access another library while offline before.


Is this is place to ask what happened to Rachel Brown?


Supposedly the Offline trick worked at some point but not any more. So I can’t play Grim Dawn while my wife plays the Witcher 3 or a hidden object game, etc. Obviously not trying to game the system and share with friends across the country or whatever.


Personally, for this, I just use the same account accross the home computers, and set one offline so we both can play whatever we want. Works no problem. “Family” seems to only add a layer of unnecessary complexity and insecurity, by asking people to share their credentials.


She got banned for writing some really uncalled for and inappropriate stuff. It got really personal. If you look after her last post in her history you see Tom kinda sorta mention that some shit went down and the implied ban. I think a lot of the worst stuff she wrote got cleansed since it was out of line.

What sucks was the circle of posters who were egging her on at the time. They went right up to the line of appropriateness but Rachel didn’t have the ability to hold back and jumped right over it in return.

I miss her particular brand of crazy but mostly the salient points she would make.


You have to keep your crazy in some level of check, though. Otherwise you’re literally a crazy person.


I read her last censored post. It is pretty tasteless but she has been fighting a losing public perception war over Steam. I’m actually not a fan of Steam, because it is effectively a natural monopoly in PC digital marketplace. Activision, Ubisoft, EA, Microsoft all tried to beat Steam with their own digitial marketplace, but the net result is pretty dire.

That is bad from a competition point of view. Without competition Valve have incentive in making more money without improving its service. For example, without the Australian consumer watchdog ACCC coming down hard on Steam, Valve probably wouldn’t have developed a refund policy.

Some hot shot economist should really do a study on the PC digital marketplace to see whether scepticism of Steam is backed up by empirical evidence.


With so many games to play these days, if Family Sharing allowed simultaneous access from the same library, there’d be nothing stopping you from, say, knocking out that sweet new $60 single-player game during launch weekend, then letting a friend play through it while you get back to Total War: Warhammer 2 or grinding for that Pinball FX3 tournament or whatever. Now imagine that applied to every new $60 single-player game, every hot new indie hit, and even some of the multiplayer stuff, times a million because Gamers™ are awful and will abuse any system that lets them play stuff for free.

The PS3 scenario is relevant because it’s a real-world example of what happens when you allow anything resembling library sharing with full-priced games, and it’s why Sony went from “multiple console activations with no restrictions on simultaneous content access from the same account library” on PS3 to the PS4 using the same “one console activation per account, and then you can only access content from that account on another console if it’s the current user account and online on that one” system Microsoft had already successfully demonstrated on Xbox 360.


Yes, it’s why I lamented the loss of the salient points she was making. :/


Would it be possible for Valve to rig it so two accounts on the same home network could use different games at the same time via sharing? It just seems like the current implementation defeats the whole purpose.


Then people would just use VPNs to appear on the same network.