Sharing guinea pigs

In a major development for PC gamers and digital distribution, Steam has announced Family Sharing. Yes, it’s only going into limited Beta, and there are plenty of restrictions, but this is a fantastic step in the right direction. Who wants to join my ‘family’?Steam announced their new Family Sharing program and it’s pretty awesome. It lets friends and family share each other’s games, earning their own Steam achievements and saving their progress to the Steam cloud. Well done, guys!

Now for the catches. According to the FAQs, a steam account can only authorize 10 devices at a time for Family Sharing. This will definitely help gamers determine who their ‘real’ friends and family are – who will you allow in your inner circle of Steam sharing?

Then there is the crazy part. When you authorize someone to join with you in Family Sharing, you give them access to your entire library. This library can only be accessed by one user at a time, and it is your entire library! So, if you want to spectate some Dota 2, you will have to kick your best friend out of FTL. As they explain:

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.

Still, at least this will allow people to test drive games, or play through brief games that are owned by friends or family. I would happily give up an hour of Steam time if it convinces someone of the awesomeness of Thomas Was Alone or Papers, Please – then you will be happy to go buy your own copy. Just don’t expect to run any marathon Civ 5 sessions.

Funny how Steam managed to add this feature that sounds so similar to what Microsoft was originally trying to do with the Xbox One, complete with the 24 hour check-in, but somehow, because it’s Valve, everything is dandy.  Do you think this is a sign of things to come in the world of digital distribution? Are you prepared to start sharing your digital games?

Last Updated: September 12, 2013

was reviewed on PC

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. You can read more of my words over at, or just follow me on all the social networks to get the true range of my sarcasm and wit.

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