While Microsoft is still recovering from the deep wound of having to ditch its Family Sharing program for the Xbox One, Valve is embracing the opportunity of bringing the idea to every Steam user. The company first opened Family Sharing for beta testing back in September of last year, and now after the end of the beta, the service is fully available to everyone who are interested.
With the new family sharing functionality, users can authorize up to 10 family members or friends on separate machines to play their list of Steam games. Users playing shared games will still be able to create their own saved files, and earn achievements. Bear in mind, however, playing from a shared library will require the player to be online during the process.
Furthermore, when the primary account holder logs in to play, the user currently playing will be asked to either purchase the game, or log out to allow the primary account holder to take over and play. This means that only one user is able to play a particular a game, which might be a problem for some who would like to play the same game with their close relatives or friends.
"Steam Family Library Sharing allows family members and their guests to play one another's games while earning their own Steam achievements and saving their own game progress to the Steam Cloud. It's all enabled by authorizing shared computers and users," says Valve.
Valve also outlined that games restricted to a particular region will not work if a user playing a shared library is located in another. Furthermore, players will have the option to play downloadable content (DLC) from a shared library. This is a good move by Valve, as it could boost the sales of DLCs if more people get the chance to play.
Finally, not all games will support Family Sharing. These games include those that require a subscription, or an additional third party key.
Valve is showing how it is done, and console manufacturers have the option to learn a thing or two as Steam leads the way with innovative ideas.