Steam has taken the gaming world by storm, and in more ways than one, has shaped how the digital distribution model impacts our lives. Gamers in particular have a lot to appreciate about Steam
, but there's been one major point of trouble: sharing. Now, Steam is addressing it, with the introduction of Family Sharing. The service claims that this is a new feature that "allows close friends and family members to share their libraries of Steam games," and it'll support PC, Mac and Linux.
The feature will become available next week, in limited beta on Steam, but should roll out more broadly soon after any final kinks are worked out. Steam Family Sharing is designed for close friends and family members to play one another's Steam 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.