Valve Reveals Steam Family Sharing Program

Valve Software has revealed the "Steam Family Sharing" program, which allows friends and family to share their library of Steam games online. A limited beta for the program will launch next week. Valve says that the Steam Family Sharing plan allows family members and friends to play each other's games, and individual members can earn their own achievements and keep their own saves and application data intact via the Steam cloud too.

"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," Valve's Anna Sweet said in a statement. "Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests."

And sharing is as easy as authorizing someone to have access to your library, apparently. The feature will be supported on PC, Mac, and Linux – assuming that some of the games you own support those platforms. The lender of a given game is always able to play their games at any time, but if a player decides to start playing while a friend is borrowing a game, the friend will be given a "few minutes" to purchase the game or quit.

The beta is expected to begin in about a week, with 1,000 accounts selected being notified via email.

To sign up, check out

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  1. 0
    Kincyr says:

    Steam's offline mode only works for up to two weeks without having to check in. while that is 14 times more than Microsoft's initial limit, it is in fact, still a limit

    EDIT: before anyone gets angry at Valve, it turns out this is in fact, not by design.

    there are many components involved in Offline Mode, and some of them have known issues and bugs which we are continually working to improve. We're aware that it doesn't always work as flawlessly as we want it to, but please keep reporting bugs with Offline Mode.

  2. 0
    Thipp says:

    People keep making that comparison and I think it is only fair to a point. If you don't want to use that feature you can still play your Steam games in offline mode without ever having to check in after the initial registration. I game mostly on my gaming PC which is always online but I travel for work each week and game on my laptop as well which is very often not online and Steam accommodates this with no hassle.

    Microsoft strongly did not want to consider the possibility of your system not being online and chose an all or nothing approach of use your system one way or not at all, the family sharing feature was a casualty of the blow back over that attitude. I expect that it will show up again in the future at some point as there is no reason you could not have the feature available as an option without requiring every xbox to be online or not functional regardless of their interest in the feature.

    Microsoft just took their ball and went home in protest of consumers being upset with their approach.  

  3. 0
    MechaTama31 says:

    I thought the same thing, from the GP article.  It could be a little clearer about the fact that they will be booted off if you play *any* game, not just the game they are borrowing.  The wording is ambiguous, and the natural assumption would be that you can't play the same game at the same time, but the whole library?  Well, better than a kick in the shorts, I guess…

  4. 0
    Degraine says:

    Whoops, I was wrong. I parsed the GP article as saying when the owner starts up the same game. That clarifies things a bit.

    Still liking it, though, as far as it goes.

  5. 0
    Farseli says:

    Too bad this is nothing like "just as current retail games, books, DVDs, and other physical media can be shared" since that would mean that when I let my friend borrow one of my books that I'm not allowed to read any of my other books.

    This is just a way of giving out your account information while still maintaining complete control of your account.

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