With Steam’s new push for their gaming system, they have also made many other power-plays to make a mark in the PC gaming industry. Valve Software has been known for a very long time as being the big player in discount services and promotions of as much user freedom as possible.
Steam’s newest features include streaming from one PC to another or even to a TV screen (though HDMI) and the one that I’m most excited about: family sharing.
The Steam Family Sharing feature allows multiple users to share their entire library with each one another. That’s right, the entire library. So the dad with all the money can have his kids using their accounts separately on their own save files rather than having to log into his account every day and mess up his 100+ hours progress on Skyrim.
Naturally, there are limitations though. For example, only 10 accounts can be shared on one computer, game titles with subscription services aren’t available for sharing, and the sharing feature needs internet connection and the original owner’s permission.
Families with accounts for each member with different tastes can share their entire library with unlimited access to the games for trial purposes (that turn into unhealthy obsessions). Individualized game files allow for each member to earn the achievements for those high-level steam players who like the large numbers.
There are limitations, but most seem obvious and unobtrusive. When the shared member is playing a game, the original owner cannot use their account which means no multiplayer LAN servers on the same activation key, but the sharing permissions are by computer.
Most people don’t try to log into two accounts and both play on the same computer at the same time (unless they’re siblings). As well, if the original owner has more DLC’s than the sharer, the sharer may have issues attempting to play the original owner’s copy of the game, but only if both members own the game, so the sharer can just play their own copy.
The biggest bummer of all might be that steam trading cards can’t be earned through games that “the mooch” doesn’t own, but if that’s the giant disappointment for this incredible feature, I’m on board.
All around, it seems like a fantastic feature and a wonderful idea. Another winning business move for Steam and Valve Software.
For more information about how to set up this system, what all options are included, and more frequently asked questions, visit the Steam Family Sharing FAQ page.