Steam Family Sharing

This, according to the FAQ.

This service is going to be significantly less useful for the “let’s share a single account with all the games among a bunch of friends!” crowd than people want it to be.

Sounds great. Currently, my son has to use my account on the kids shared computer to play some of the games he likes, but then I am locked out when I want to play something else. This should rock.


When you login to play, he gets kicked out after a brief warning.

This should work great in our case. I have a bunch of games in my account that my son may find interesting. I do most of my gaming on weekends and he plays mostly on week days, so the simultaneous access issues shouldn’t affect us.

Do most people already use this feature now by just using offline mode and sharing accounts? Like someone mentioned above about being hesitant to share passwords, doesn’t this at least eliminate that issue but still allow the offline workaround?

It always amuses me how people think companies are going to allow them to freely share their games around with all of their friends for some reason. If you think about this (allowing lending on a game by game basis without locking the total library) for even a moment, it should be easy to see what a bad idea it is. I am all for consumer rights, and I think things have turned against consumers WAY too mcuh now and are just looking worse, but this is something that would clearly be bad for the long term health of this relationship (between gamers and game makers).

Having it lock your whole library is probably enough that i would only use it to let one of my friends use my games when i’m not on (different time zone). In the event they were stupid enough to allow you to lend games one at a time, my friend and i would never buy the same game. We would just have one person buy it and then share it to the other when done. Even with just this, it will easily cost steam hundreds of dollars a year in games that were not purchased because my friend or I was playing a game on the other’s account instead of buying it.

It doesn’t lock your library. The owner can still launch games whenever he wants, the borrower gets a message that says “So and so has launched a game, you have 5 minutes to save/quit or buy the game yourself” and then can’t start borrowed games until the owner stops playing.

You could also theoretically get around that by the owner launching and playing in offline mode so the borrower has mostly unlimited access, but then the owner wouldn’t be getting Steam achievements, have access to Steam community, and wouldn’t be accruing Steam played-time. If that’s worth it or not of course depends on the person.

There’ll definitely be people playing singleplayer games to completion/until they’re satisfied with it and not buying 'em with this, but the way Valve’s handling it they’re probably betting on people getting a taste for a game and then getting impatient about playing based on the whims of others and buying copies themselves. You’re in a good position if you make a solemn blood-oath with someone to split game costs and are organized about it, but they probably won’t care since they’ll be harvesting impulse buyers.

This has been how it works for physical games, at least on console, and for DRM-free/non-server-based DRM PC games, since the 1970s. There’s no particular reason to think that allowing people to loan a single digital copy of a game to a single person at a time would cause any meaningful damage to the games industry. Especially since illegal digital copies of those games are trivially available in most cases. But certainly restoring consumer rights is a tough sell to publishers, since they’ve managed to get along just fine without needing to do any such thing so far.

So if I lend a friend a book (a physical one), he should be prevented from reading it if I start reading another book I own? You know that is ludicrous. I’m sure book publishers would love it if they could enforce that. Software should not operate under any different rules than other products. I’d be perfectly OK if I had to activate a product and tie it to my computer if it also supported deactivation so it could be transferred to another person in a legal way. I’m all for protecting game publishers’ rights so games can’t be pirated (if anyone ever figures out a way), but to place these unique restrictions on digital products just because they can is just wrong in my opinion.

The book publishers proclaimed libraries would destroy books as we know it. The ability to record videos from TV meant no one would ever buy movies anymore either. if you remove DRM from music, no one will ever buy it. Same tired argument from media creators since the beginning.

Interesting idea, but the library lock makes it almost useless for me. I would not expect to be able to share games with everyone all the time and everything all the time… but locking it to one person at a time seems… not nearly as exciting as Family Sharing implies.

It’s still a hugely meaningful step in the right direction, and though it’s not as useful as it could be, I for one will be happy to be able to share my 900+ Steam games with a couple of my friends who have different schedules than I do.

So obviously the lendee can’t play in offline mode, but I don’t see any reason why the lender couldn’t. That way you could have two copies of the same game running simultaneously, as long as you aren’t trying to play online. Seems a bit convoluted and annoying, though.

I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and say there were libraries before there were publishers or copyright laws.

That’s crazy talk!

(Heck, there were libraries before there were even /books/.)

It always amuses me when people think that a feature will be gamed by people who are so desperate to save pennies that those people wouldn’t just pirate the games they want to begin with. Okay, I hear your concerns, and whilst on a technical level I agree, surely you have to agree that such people wouldn’t even bother with such things. If their mindset is “evil” and they are looking at ways to game such a feature, why do it part legal/official? …and be very restrained on what and how they can play their shared games. Either way, I don’t for a second, believe that there is a large segment of gamers who until now, purchase the games they want, but now that this new feature is barely announced, and when it’s operational, they will do what you suggest.

As is already known, games with keys will not be loanable, as are a few other type games. That means you will not be able to loan all the hot FPS the “kiddies” like. Basically, out of the entire 2000+ games on Steam currently, approximately 30% use or have CD keys. Long story short, the average Steam user may be able to loan, maybe, approximately 50% of their entire library. As it stands now, it’s still “better” to just share account details with a real friend you trust, whereby they play one of your games offline, whilst you play whatever you want, unfeathered, online. Let alone that if people were serious about this, they can do it better by just sharing two separate accounts. That way, they can both play different games (any game, no restrictions) simultaneously, chat with each other and everything else a Steam user can do now. The only thing they couldn’t do, as per your suggestion, is play the same game, since the two accounts would have different games. They would still be better off when compared to gaming the family sharing feature - way better.

I get what you and others are saying, I just don’t accept it as reasonable. You’re suggesting that there are people (in large enough numbers to matter) who buy games on Steam right now, because they can’t get them any other way, and as soon as this feature is implemented they will game the system. I would suggest that such people, who think this way, are already pirates or would have fallen down that slope anyway.

I disagree.

If you allow people to easily game the system in a way that seems morally ok, they will generally do it in my opinion. Unlike piracy, people won’t see it as morally bad or hurting the developers, so they will have no reason not to do it. In their mind, they paid for the privilege after all.

I know i would in this example. When a friend asked me if they should buy bioshock infinite (for example), i would tell them no, i’ll just lend it to them instead. Unlike if it was a physical copy, i can lend my digital copy out to anyone in the world with the press of a button and with absolutely no risk of it being damaged/lost/stolen. Also, it seems likely we will “almost” both be able to have it at roughly the same time as long as we don’t play it at EXACTLY the same time. With a physical copy, i can’t play it from 5-6pm with friend A playing at 6-7pm and friend B playing at 8-9pm. This is a lost sale.

Sharing too separate accounts is a pain in the ass, so most people aren’t going to do it.

What i fear is two things. 1) This causing publishers to try to make up the money elsewhere so you can buy one copy of a game for you and your three friends. 2) This hurting developers.

Of course the likely return fire from publishers is every game having a cd key to avoid working with this system.

Rachel, we already have a very good real-life example of this happening: PlayStation Network.

Up until two years ago, when Sony reduced the number of activations per account from five total (which for many people meant five PS3s) to two consoles and two handhelds (which still means two PS3s), it was quite common for people to share a single PSN account across multiple systems. There were no limitations whatsoever here: no “your friend can’t be playing this game at the same time you are,” no library locks, nothing. You could install games like Wipeout HD or Flower on five separate PS3s and have all of them run it at once under separate user accounts, as long as the account those games were tied to was activated on that system.

Mind you, for most of this time, piracy wasn’t possible, and even after it became an option, it required (and still requires) work and sometimes money that most people weren’t (and still aren’t) willing to put in. But hey, no reason to pirate games when you can just mooch off your friends who actually buy them! It’s not like they own five PS3s themselves, after all!

It’s still possible to abuse this under the current system; my cousin currently has my PSN copies of Skullgirls and the Ratchet & Clank HD collection loaded on her PS3, in another state. There are still no limitations whatsoever for her accessing those games, and we could play Skullgirls online with each other if we wanted. However, I do that at the cost of my only spare activation; if my household suddenly got another PS3, or if I got a PS4, I’d need to deactivate my account on my cousin’s PS3 to activate my account on the new device. Under the old system, I would still have spare activations, so there’d be no problems, and I could keep sharing my games.

Don’t think for a moment that people won’t try to abuse Family Sharing, even with the limits in place. People will go out of their way to avoid pirating something but still not pay for it; just look at all the people who have been funding new additions to their Steam libraries by idling in games for hours to farm trading cards, or all the people who are using the current Humble Indie Bundle as an opportunity to pick up Fez without giving Phil Fish any money for it.

I wonder if the following scenario will be allowed: my friend is playing one of the games I shared with him while (at the same time!) I am playing one of the games he shared with me. I hope it is allowed because if it’s not, it will just create some busywork by forcing us to create a separate “play my friends’ games” account.

It don’t sounds like it work. Replace “game” by library. This is a “share your library” thing “while you are not playing your library”. The moment you are playing the library, nobody else can play your library.

The current system seems designed so people that have enough money to buy games, but don’t have enough time to play games, could buy more games that somebody in is family&friends network can play. Is a excellent beneficial type of evil. The solution to the backlog problem :D

Yeah, that makes it a big fat BFD for my purposes.