Share your library of games with Steam Family Sharing

Steam Family Sharing is now available to all users.

by

Steam Family Sharing, a feature that allows friends and family to share their libraries of Steam games, is now available to all users, Valve has announced.

A user can make his library of Steam games available for others to access, download, and play on approved authorized accounts and devices. You may authorize Family Library Sharing on up to 10 devices at a given time, and for up to five accounts. Though simultaneous usage of an account is prohibited, the lender is always able to play their games at any time. If the 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.

Individual members can earn their own achievements and keep their own saves and application data intact with Steam Cloud.

Lenders can’t access games that aren't available in their region or games that require a third-party key, account or subscription.

You should also be careful about who you share with. Family sharing privileges may be revoked and your account may be VAC (Valve’s anti-cheat system) banned if your library is used by others to cheat.

You can find out more about Family Sharing and instruction on how to use the feature on Steam’s website.

Emanuel Maiberg is a freelance writer, and you can follow him on Twitter @emanuelmaiberg
Got a news tip or want to contact us directly? Email news@gamespot.com

Discussion

105 comments
oneligas
oneligas

it's not Half Life Episode 3 or Half Life 3 so i hate it

crazywolf5150
crazywolf5150

I've been doing this more a few months now and it's a very nice feature, but apparently I can't play DayZ on my other accounts using this. That's the only game that I have (among over 400) that won't allow me to use Steam family share with it, which I find strange since it doesn't require a 3rd party key or a subscription and I was able to play it on my other accounts before.

Slagar
Slagar

Well, I welcome the ability to do this. It's kind of mind-blowing that it wasn't part of Steam since the beginning.

dribblesbarbax
dribblesbarbax

No matter how hard I try I just cant get this sharing thing to work. I have 2 pc's. I have 2 separate steam accounts. Both pc's are authorised. Neither can play either's games. Steam account (A) on pc (A) can see steam account (B)'s games. But cannot play them without purchasing. Steam account (B) on pc (B) cant see steam account (A)'s games. Why is it so flipping complicated?

PowerDingALing
PowerDingALing

What if I borrow a game from a friend and crack it?

Setho10
Setho10

Used the beta of this to share my library with my brother who just bought a gaming PC. He was able to try my games without issue so this seems to work as described. Of note to those who might want to share their libraries with friends, you have to sign into your account on each computer you want to activate, so plan on being physically present when you set this up at a friend's house or be willing to share your password and access to your email.

Trender_man
Trender_man

EA: haha look at those losers, what gamers really want are DLCs

BuBsay
BuBsay

I think it's also worth noting for all the people crying foul and saying "Microsoft tried to do the same thing and everyone hated them for it!" it's worth noting something.


Why do people buy PC's for gaming?

1. Better specs

2. Ability to customize Hardware/Software

3. Cheaper digital games.

4. A far larger indie market.


But, we also have to deal with some godawful DRM services (Uplay, Origin etc. etc.). So why did everyone get upset when Xbox One tried to introduce similar DRM?


Answer: Xbox One was trying to introduce the same awful DRM policies that we have on PC, whilst having none of the advantages that come with having a PC that I listed above; in essence trying to give us all the worst sides of the PC market, with absolutely none of the bonuses.

Blazen702
Blazen702

So when Microsoft wanted this for the Xbox One the gaming community balked but now that Steam is doing it gamers say it's ok? Typical bias against Xbox by all the sony and PC fanboys. I'm not a sheep so I got the X1 for the obvious reasons plus the better games.

Sefrix
Sefrix moderator moderator

The only thing that could make this better would be to make the lending on a per-game basis, just like you could with physical copies. That would be AWESOME. 

de-astroturfer
de-astroturfer

Microsofts family sharing will return "when the time is right" by which they mean when they can reimpose used game fees, i.e. when they have enough customers locked in, so that will probably be never then !  

snakebite6x6x6
snakebite6x6x6

Meh, I was kinda looking forward to this...but the way they described it was misleading.


“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.”


That's funny, because If my kids want to watch a Star Wars movie, and I want to watch Super Troopers at the same time, no problem. However, if I share my library with my family, and want to play Dark Souls....while my son is playing any other game in my library aside from Dark Souls....it kicks him out. 


It defeats the purpose. Why bother with family sharing if we cannot be online at the same time. I would understand if we were both trying to play the same game.  

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

Oh look, it's that program that all the fanboys were praising for the Xbone before Microsoft threw a tantrum and pulled it after their DRM 180.


Valve is such a better company.

ramyland
ramyland

Frankly I do not trust to share my collection of games with my friends on steam! , the only exception will be my brother !

gottago42
gottago42

Family sharing was part of Xbox One features until all the Gamestop/Retail employees

started screaming "hey Microsoft's not for us gamers this is DRM" crap all over the internet gaming sites so family sharing was scrapped I for one would've loved the family sharing features

hystavito
hystavito

@crazywolf5150  Maybe DayZ opted out of it?  Or maybe an early access issue, have you tried other early access games?

hystavito
hystavito

@Setho10  Thanks for that note.  I was going to tell a friend about this, trying to get him interested in more gaming, but now I know there's no point until I'm at his house.  Also I might want to try this with some internet friends, but I wouldn't want to give out my password.


I guess they wanted to limit this so that a lot of people won't actually use it.

Forcecaster
Forcecaster

@BuBsay Actully my only problem with the Xbox One DRM was the fact I would have to be always online. I can wait a few days for my game to download from Steam, I'm patient, but to being forced kicked every fu*king time because something goes wrong with my connection will go on my nerves.

bu3aDeL_Maz
bu3aDeL_Maz

@BuBsay i remember people hated the DRM because they wanted to sell and trade games like they did with the 360 (which is something PC couldn't do before this). 


PC is awesome, but consoles are waaaay better for friends to gather around and play FIFA or Mortal Kombat or even Guitar Hero and Rock Band (that's what me and my friends do). and believe me, if the game is good then graphics won't matter.

do what I do, buy everything, start with your favorite, mine is playstation and never an Xbox console!

R4gn4r0k
R4gn4r0k

@BuBsay  Also you needed to do an online check on Xbone every 24 hours, making it effectively worse than most PC DRM (I say most because there is the awful, despicable AO-DRM on PC)

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@Blazen702 People didn't hate Microsoft for this, they hated them for everything else.


The family sharing and DRM are completely separate.  Microsoft could implement family sharing today if they wanted to.  But they don't.

BuBsay
BuBsay

@Blazen702 Funny you say that, I literally just posted a reasoning as to why people were so up in arms against the Xbox's DRM as compared to PC.

PowerDingALing
PowerDingALing

@Sefrix What could make it better would be some atittude like "do whatever you want with you game, lend or play online with anyone you want, you payed for it".

ExtremePhobia
ExtremePhobia

@Sefrix  I suspect that this isn't a possibility probably due to legal agreements with most of the publishers. Though I'll bet Valve will start talking to Indie devs about it and it may cause a cascade effect.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@snakebite6x6x6 Think of it like a TV.  You might have Star Wars and Super Troopers, but you only have one TV to watch it on.

randomkidlol
randomkidlol

@snakebite6x6x6  Theres a workaround for that. Just start steam normally in online mode, but disconnect the internet on one of the users before launching the game.

BuBsay
BuBsay

@snakebite6x6x6 Ya it's slightly disappointing. But now I've taken to whenever my girlfriend wants to play Banished I just play an MMO like Guild Wars 2 for a while, or toss in an old disc based game like Warcraft 3 while she plays.

If you have a good library of games outside of Steam as well, then Family Sharing works just fine.

snxx
snxx

@snakebite6x6x6 Is it perfect? Nope. Is it a huge improvement over what we had? Hell, yeah! So, let's take this one step at a time, alright?

Also, you're complaining about one problem this system have over physical media, however it also have some improvements over physical media:

For an instance, I can authorize someone's notebook (say, a brother) and he can play almost any game on my library without worrying to borrow a physical disc. If he goes to, say, Europe, and I buy a new game, he WILL be able to access it as long as I'm not playing at the same time. If he lives on the other side of the city and want to play my GTA IV, he doesn't need to drive to me home to get the disc, he just installs it from the cloud.

So, it's not like the system is worse in every aspect, it only has a different set of particularities.

snakebite6x6x6
snakebite6x6x6

@Thanatos2k  Microsoft pulled the "DRM 180" because people whined about it, not because people praised it. 


The difference is, is that Microsoft is a company that is popular to hate...so everybody wants to jump on the bandwagon.

mr_nee
mr_nee

@gottago42  if I remember right - MS' version of family sharing was more like "family sharing first 30mins of gameplay"

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@gottago42 Family Sharing had nothing to do with the DRM.  Microsoft could implement it any day they wanted.  But they don't.

BuBsay
BuBsay

@gottago42 Family sharing was the one thing that people supported about the Xbox One, it was the couple thousand of other draconian DRM practices, that would make origin look understanding, that everyone hated about the Xbox One.

Flubbbs
Flubbbs

@gottago42 nobody scrapped the family sharing but Microsoft.. they could of left it in

MBroadcloak
MBroadcloak

@hystavito Ever consider using TeamViewer?  That way you remotely enter your credentials to authorize the device and vice-versa.  Unless you don't trust your friend enough to not keylog you, in which case sharing is probably a poor life choice anyway.

Setho10
Setho10

@hystavito Well the service is more meant for Steam Machine users who are using Steam as a console. It's meant to work like the Xbox or Playstation that lets multiple accounts play any games installed on the system or that let's you bring a game to a friend's house. Basically it's meant to support local sharing not online sharing.

vegard1985
vegard1985

@bu3aDeL_Maz I use my PC in Big Picture mode when I have a friend over who likes gaming. I've played through Mortal Kombat with him that way. Plug in 2 360 controllers and there are absolutely no advantages to playing the console version any longer. And yes, Dualshock controllers work as well. 


I do own consoles though, but my Wii is the only one I like co-op gaming on (Smash Bros, New Super Mario Bros etc). The only reason why a console would be better, is if your PC is nowhere near your TV, or the games aren't available on the platform.

PowerDingALing
PowerDingALing

@BuBsay @snakebite6x6x6Lame. You are forced to get out. just lame. But, you know, there are other things to do in life if someone wants to use your PC (or your account, in this case)...

And, by the way, playing videogame with your girlfriend...? Lame.

ExtremePhobia
ExtremePhobia

@snxx @snakebite6x6x6  I think it might get to the point where only games are shared in time but for now it's not a perfect system. I suspect it's simply a limitation of the key system that they use. They probably can allow the "borrowing" of an account since that's handled by them but because of legal restrictions, they can't allow the borrowing of the game key itself.

This has a lot of benefit to me though since I live about 400 miles from the rest of my family for the next few years.

SpicaAntares
SpicaAntares

@BuBsay @gottago42

Sharing, MS way, was to play time limited demos with a link to their store once the counter reached 0. Anything else is wishful thinking.

gottago42
gottago42

@BuBsay The family sharing features was the trade off for the DRM

developers are not gonna agree to the terms of family sharing if people can still buy there games from the Second hand market,

DRM was created to protect the developer but gamers didn't like it so it was dropped

gottago42
gottago42

@Flubbs the reason Steam can have a family sharing feature is because there's no physical discs,

Microsoft was trying to push for a all digital console with the Xbox One but gamers-mostly retail employees rebelled against this idea so Microsoft had to scrap the feature

developers wasn't going to agree to the terms of this feature if their games can still be traded or purchase second hand

bu3aDeL_Maz
bu3aDeL_Maz

@vegard1985@bu3aDeL_Maz exactly, PC is usually in a bedroom or in an office. my parents don't allow friends upstairs, so would be a pain to carry the PC down every time.


don't forget that consoles are great for extra accessories like Kinect, Move, Wii fit, guitars and drums for GH/RB... etc


and also, im the kind of person who would like to keep his work in a separate machine for the sake of storage and security.


I totally agree with PC being more powerful and upgradable, but sometimes visuals are not everything. 


and if you ask me, I think everybody who like party games should get a Wii U

SphinxDemon
SphinxDemon

Lol your lame if you cant enjoy the things you love with your other. Video games are one ;)

BuBsay
BuBsay

@gottago42 That's the thing though, Steam allows you to play offline, and opt in to the family sharing if you want. Plus, as a kind of bonus with using DRM you get the massive Steam sales. So you had either the choice of playing offline or using family sharing, and the ability to do whatever you want with it.

Microsoft's approach was you either do what they want or you get absolutely nothing, plus you're still paying an inflated overpriced $60 for digital games (Seriously, there's a reason the LEGO games are $60 on consoles, and $30 on PC: The answer is because Microsoft and Sony are greedy as hell).

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@gottago42 You don't HAVE to have that tradeoff though, something Microsoft will never understand.

SpicaAntares
SpicaAntares

@snxx @SpicaAntares@gottago42

If that's so sales will drop. Imagine I have 20 games and share them with 5 others. We could agree on what we will be playing each one of us, until a certain date, then switch to another one without ever paying for another game. One could mount an account were the games are bought, we share the price, and that's it. Sound too good to be true.

And Steam bandwith? No one will pay for that? Sounds fishy.

snxx
snxx

@SpicaAntares @gottago42 Nope, there is not. I've been participating in the Family Sharing for a while and that's exactly how it works: your brother and 4 other people are allowed to download you entire library and play it without paying a dime if they want and you allow. The only thing is that only one person (including you) may access your library at any time, so it's not like everybody will be playing your games all at once.

SpicaAntares
SpicaAntares

@gottago42

"the reason Steam can have a family sharing feature is because there's no physical discs"

Honestly I cannot see how they can have a real sharing feature. Lets say I want to share my personal collection of games with my brother: my Steam directory is 365 gigs. Do you think Steam will allow 365 gigs to be downloaded for free by my brother and 4 other people? For free? There has to be some shenanigans we haven't seen yet.