Valve has announced Steam Family Sharing, a new feature for its Steam digital gaming service that will allow you to share your Steam library with other Steam users. It’ll enter into a limited beta next week.
According to Valve, Steam Family Sharing will let you authorize friends and family members to access the entirety of your Steam library, either locally, through a new option that will be added to your account’s settings, or through an email request.
You’ll be able to share your library of games with up to 10 separate devices at once, and those who are granted access to your library will be able to earn their own achievements and make their own saves. They’ll also be able to access any DLC you have bought.
Essentially, Family Sharing will allow others to to leverage Steam’s cloud-based nature to download a duplicated version of your account, just without the ability to access all the achievements and personal information that may be shared when you simply give a friend your Steam log-in credentials.
Only one person will be able to access a shared library at any given time, though, and you’ll only be able to share your whole library, rather than a handful of specific games. Valve says that the lender of a shared library will always be able to access his or her games, but if you try to access your library while another person is using it, that borrower will be given a short time to either quit the game they are playing or buy it him/herself.
Valve notes that certain games in your library won’t be sharable, such as titles that are purchased with a third-party key or subscription. The service will work on Windows, Mac and Linux, but it won’t make games work on OSes that they don’t support. It won’t lift any regional restrictions for a given game either.
But despite those caveats, Steam Family Sharing looks like it might be a useful way for friends and family to check out each other’s games more easily. It’s very much reminiscent of the digital sharing plans Microsoft once had for its Xbox One, but Valve’s service may fare a little better with the public than those policies did.
“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.”