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Earlier today Valve announced an upcoming feature for their Steam client which is sure to raise some eyebrows and pulses. The pending feature will allow family members and close friends to share their Steam libraries with one another.
“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.”
Utilizing the Steam cloud, users “borrowing” a game via Steam Family Sharing will accumulate their own achievements while generating their own save game. Those borrowing a game will also have access to DLC purchased by the lender.
Though the feature will let authorized users play each others Steam games without owning their own license; there are limitations. Individual Steam accounts will be limited to usage across ten devices at a time. Users won’t be able to play the same title as a friend or family member simultaneously. If an authorized user is playing one of your Steam games, you will be able to fire up the game; however, the other user will be given a few minutes to save and exit. Nor will you be able to lend your entire Steam library; titles that require a third-party key, a subscription, or a unique account separate from Steam will not be available to share. Furthermore, any regional restrictions will still apply.
Despite the device limitation, fear not; authorized access will not be permanent as sharing privileges can be revoked.
Valve will host an exclusive beta period for Steam Family Share; those interested in participating have been encouraged to join its subsequent Steam group.