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Valve Announces Family Sharing On Steam, Can Include Friends 263

Posted by Soulskill
from the microsoft-looks-on-sadly dept.
Deathspawner writes "Valve has today announced its next attempt at a console-killer: 'Family Sharing' is a feature that will allow you to share your Steam library with family and close friends. This almost seems too good to be true, and while there are caveats, this is going to be huge, and Valve knows it. As Techgage notes, with it you can share nearly your entire Steam library with family or friends, allowing them to earn their own achievements, and have their own saved games. 'Once a device is authorized, the lender's library of Steam games becomes available for others on the machine to access, download, and play. Though simultaneous usage of an account’s library is not allowed, the lender may always access and play his games at any time. If he decides to start playing when a friend is borrowing one of his games, the friend will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing.'"
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Valve Announces Family Sharing On Steam, Can Include Friends

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  • Steambox (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:35PM (#44822271)

    As long as Steambox allows me to play games with a keyboard and mouse, it will be a superior choice to any other console.

  • No co-op (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sunami (751539) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:35PM (#44822275)

    Still no ability to play multiplayer with somebody without them buying the game, the one spot where I feel consoles definitely have the advantage over PC games.

    • Re:No co-op (Score:4, Insightful)

      by war4peace (1628283) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:37PM (#44822293)

      I think this functionality depends on how the game is implemented, rather than what Steam can do about it.

    • Re:No co-op (Score:5, Interesting)

      by intermodal (534361) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:37PM (#44822295) Homepage Journal

      Perhaps that will come. But still, this is a step that Valve didn't have to take, and another reminder that as far as global companies controlling intellectual property are concerned, Valve is about the closest we've got to a "good guy" to root for.

      • Perhaps that will come. But still, this is a step that Valve didn't have to take, and another reminder that as far as global companies controlling intellectual property are concerned, Valve is about the closest we've got to a "good guy" to root for.

        Except for when they change this ToS and if you don't agree to something you're locked out of all the games you had purchased previously...

      • by Xest (935314)

        Just out of interest, why is it good when Valve does this sort of thing with Steam but it was ultimate internet uproar when Microsoft proposed the exact same thing for the XBox One before having to backtrack?

        This requires the exact same phoning home that Microsoft originally planned to implement and they were offering this exact same feature as a result of that.

        Is there a particular reason as to why it's suddenly now okay other than the fact Valve seems to get a free pass when it introduces ever more intrus

        • by Shrike82 (1471633)

          Just out of interest, why is it good when Valve does this sort of thing with Steam but it was ultimate internet uproar when Microsoft proposed the exact same thing for the XBox One before having to backtrack?

          Because the XBox is console, and Steam games are on a PC. Think of them being at opposite ends of a spectrum. This is valve taking a step in the right direction (more sharing where there's basically none at the minute), and Microsoft were taking a step in the wrong direction (limiting sharing where it was previously easy to do).

          • by Xest (935314)

            I don't think that makes sense. Until Steam DRM came along I was perfectly able to share PC games. It's only a step forward if you ignore the fact that Steam DRM was a massive step backwards in the first place so effectively you're saying Valve is now taking one step forward after previously having taken PC gaming 2 steps back whereas Microsoft was taking 1 step back after having always been one step forward.

            My Quake CD was shared with most people I know (and I think every one of them went on to buy their o

    • Re:No co-op (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PhxBlue (562201) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:41PM (#44822329) Homepage Journal

      Still no ability to play multiplayer with somebody without them buying the game, the one spot where I feel consoles definitely have the advantage over PC games.

      Don't console gamers have to have two copies of the game to play multiplayer, too?

      • Re:No co-op (Score:5, Informative)

        by Jeff Flanagan (2981883) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:55PM (#44822517)
        I believe so. Maybe he's talking about split-screen on the same console, which seems to be available on more console games than PC games.
      • I'm fairly certain he's referring to "local multiplayer" in which 2-4 people play on the same hardware. Personally I see this as a major benefit of console gaming that has kept me from gaming on PCs for decades.
        • Personally I see [local multiplayer] as a major benefit of console gaming that has kept me from gaming on PCs for decades.

          First connect a PC to an HDTV or other large monitor. Then plug in USB gamepads, such as Xbox 360 controllers you bought at a pawn shop. Then install something like Blur, Dungeon Defenders, Lego $MOVIE, Street Fighter IV, or Trine, or any of several games on this list [co-optimus.com]. What's stopping that?

      • by cbhacking (979169)

        For games that don't offer split-screen, yes.

        On the other hand, if I want to play one game (say, Halo: ODST) while a friend plays a *different* game, say Halo 3, we can do that. Even though I, and not he, own both games. Steam doesn't let you do that, even with this so-called "Sharing" feature. I didn't want to share access to my account's games list, I wanted to share access to my games, individually. Don't let us both play Foo at the same time if you must, but if I want to play Foo and he wants to play Ba

        • Isn't that exactly what "family sharing" does?

          FTA: "See a family member's installed game that you want to play? Send them a request to authorize the computer. Once authorized, the lender's library of Steam games become available for others on the machine to access, download and play. "

          • Re:No co-op (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anaerin (905998) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @03:57PM (#44823345)
            Read more carefully. The ENTIRE LIBRARY is shared. And not on a per-game basis, it's all or nothing. And if you (as the sharer) decide you want to play one of your games while someone is using your library, they get booted, even if it's not the same game. And if you're sharing your library with two other people, only one of them can play any game at a time. So you can't play Portal while friend A plays CS:GO and friend B plays HL2.
      • by LordNimon (85072)

        There are some loopholes with downloadable games on Xbox and Playstation that lets two people play the same purchased game.

        • by LordNimon (85072)

          I meant to add "... play the same purchased game at the same time on two different consoles, even against each other, using two different accounts".

    • To hell with that, still no way for me to play Foo while my friend plays Bar. If I want to play Halo ODST while my friend plays Fable 3, I hand him the Fable disc and put the Halo disc in my own console. Even though both games are in my "library".

      Steam is still DRM bullshit. This just slightly improves the current system of sharing a single actual Steam account between multiple people. Note the key word "slightly" in there.

      • by Agent0013 (828350)

        Steam is still DRM bullshit. This just slightly improves the current system of sharing a single actual Steam account between multiple people. Note the key word "slightly" in there.

        That's not how I read the summary. It isn't the account that is being shared, it's the games. So your games that you have in your account can be shared to my account. You can play Halo while I play your copy of Fable 3 that you shared to me. If you quite Halo and start up Fable, I have to quite playing since it is your game and I am just borrowing it.

        This is different from sharing the Steam account. For one, you don't need to give others your password to your Steam account where they could purchase things a

        • by Agent0013 (828350)
          Actually, upon reading the article closer, I see it does share the whole library at once. So two different games cannot be played at the same time. This is fine for people who play once a week or less. But for daily gamers it's a no-go.
          • by DrGamez (1134281)

            True, but how many concessions must Steam make for this? If that was the case then entire communities could just "go in" and buy one of nearly every game they enjoy, and as long as they all just play one game at a time, you could have hundreds of people sharing these games.

            While this /can/ happen in real life, the chances that these kind of uses actually going on (outside of netcafes) is so slim it would be a big presumptuous to assume it should work like this online. This really isn't that big of a restric

    • by vux984 (928602)

      Still no ability to play multiplayer with somebody without them buying the game, the one spot where I feel consoles definitely have the advantage over PC games.

      Your being far too cynical here; this is a HUGE deal.

      Consoles require you to have two copies of a game to play multiplayer too for the same class of multiplayer play.

      The notable exception being split-screen multiplayer, and steam supports split screen multiplayer with just one copy the same as any console -- its the games that don't offer it. Its no

      • by Anaerin (905998)

        Consoles require you to have two copies of a game to play multiplayer too for the same class of multiplayer play.

        So does this. If you want to play your copy of any game in your library while someone is using it, they get booted. Even if it's a different game. 'cause it's the whole library that is shared, not individual games.

        • by DrGamez (1134281)

          This is 100% the case for digitally sourced games.

          I do not see a way for Valve to implement per-game sharing until they also implement some kind of first-sale doctrine rights. If you can just lend out X games to X people where X is the amount of games in your inventory - entire groups would just go in on one huge "group library". Even for Valve that's kind of hard to justify from a business perspective.

    • by locopuyo (1433631)
      StarCraft 2 recently added the ability to do this. You can join a party using the trial version and as long as someone in the party has the full version of the game everyone is granted access. The only restriction is you are limited to terran for ladder games.
      • by cbhacking (979169)

        Ha! That actually goes all the way back to WC2, never mind SC1. Good to see them getting back to one of the things that helped make SC a big deal, though. Does it allow offline LAN play yet?

        Also, just to be clear: "this" is "play the same game with a friend without buying it". StarCraft may allow it, but Steam does not and nothing in this announcement changes that.

    • by DrGamez (1134281)

      How is this different?

      I have Street Fighter I want to play with a friend. We both show up and play on the same screen. If they want to play while we are at different houses, they will need their own copy, so we can play online.

      The scenario I've described is exactly the same for Steam as it is for consoles here.

    • by jxander (2605655)

      I have a feeling that "couch multiplayer" will be directly tied to the success of Steambox.

      Right now, squeezing three extra people around my 24" monitor is a bit tricky (despite it actually having much better resolution than my 1080 TV ... but I digress) Getting 4 controllers wired up (wireless) and working is another hurdle. I hear XBox controllers can be made to work, but I'm currently using those for my XBox. All in all, it's more trouble than it's worth, and not very high in demand.

      If Steambox sup

    • I'd just be happy if I could run Steam with the /same/ account on two (or more) different computers simultaneously. Not to play the same game, but having the ability to play one game on one PC and a completely different game on another seems like something those geniuses at Valve should have figured out how to do by now.

      Unless that's what this update does. They say it allows you to "authorize another device" but that does not necessarily indicate the same account can be used at the same time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:36PM (#44822281)

    Sorry, I think I need to go to the hospital, I think I broke something laughing so hard.

    • by CCarrot (1562079)

      Plex. [plexapp.com]

      Of course, you'll have to find a way to format-shift your content to a non-DRM-riddled version, so it's shareable...and good luck finding a legal way to do that [eff.org] (see section on Fair Use), even though it is technically legal for you to do so...

      IMO, sharing media via Plex is no different than lending s DVD or a CD to a friend, since they don't have a local copy, it's all being streamed from your server. AFAIK, sharing purchased physical media with friends and family isn't illegal...yet.

  • This better not force you to be on line 100% of the time even if you don't use this.

    • by PhxBlue (562201)
      I'm imagining you'd have to be online to actually share games, but the rest of the time, you could be in offline mode.
      • online to actually share games, but will it be 100% with any drop out leading to kickoff right at the time of drop?

    • by Talderas (1212466)

      Based on the announcement, either you must be online when sharing to validate that the lendee cannot play the game or your accounts titles are no longer lended when you go into offline mode. Any other solution would likely make it possible to have to copies of the game playing simultaneously, which would be a violation.

  • So now my girlfriend can't walk out with my steam collection and the cat. Whoop dee-doo.
  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:40PM (#44822325) Homepage Journal
    Having the "family sharing" plan lock you out of your entire Steam library while a family member plays a game from your list is not family sharing. This is basically just a way to give your account to someone without having to give them your password. Also, they get to keep their achievements, whoop de doo.

    I'm extremely disappointed. I was hoping for a real family sharing option, so I could play Portal in my mancave while my wife plays Gone Home up in the living room, but that's not what this is. It's almost completely useless to me. If Netflix can allow my family to stream multiple movies at once, why cant Steam allow them to play multiple games at once?

    Maybe I should just make a new steam account for every game I buy? That way I can have one master account with my friends list, and everything I buy with the account will be a gift for the actual game account. That would let me actually lend games out and maybe even resell them. It would be a bit of a pain to manage, but seems better than this solution where letting someone borrow a game locks you out of every other game you own.
    • by intermodal (534361) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:44PM (#44822365) Homepage Journal

      TFA says the opposite, it will give your friends a few minutes to buy or save. You always get priority on your library. Not exactly an unfair policy, though I wish it were specific to that title, not to your whole library.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jandrese (485)
        Which I would hate to do, because it's pretty dickish to give someone a game and then have it cut out halfway through because I started to play a completely different game. I hope it at least gives you a warning when you start your game that someone else is using your library and that you're going to screw them over if you start playing.
        • by dlenmn (145080)

          Gee, I remember the good old days where there was at most one computer in a house; if someone -- such as a younger sibling -- was using it to play a game, you had to kick them off to play a different game. If you were kind, you gave them a few minutes to wrap up and save.

          I don't see what's different here. Now quit whining and get off my lawn.

          • you call that the good old days?

          • by cbhacking (979169)

            Sounds like you were kind of a dick... by the time I was 9 (and I'm the eldest child) everybody in the family had their own PC though. I will admit to occasionally using my sister's for Total Annihilation, however, (it had more RAM; mine couldn't run 7 Islands).

          • by DrGamez (1134281)

            This is the biggest thing. I know that we all have 40 computers per household now, but this is trying to treat Steam as a console. If you have one console (one Steam account) with games on it, how the hell are you and your brother going to play two different games on the same machine at the same time?

            People are getting angry that they aren't understanding the feature.

        • Yeah, what I see this being used for is when I want one of my friends to try a game I can essentially give them a demo. You wouldn't want to play something like Skyrim on here.

          When I picked up a new game for the PS3 or XBox I can take it over to a friend's house and let them play the beginning of it. I see this as essentially giving that same ability to the PC.
        • I remember that time, too. But I also remember when I got my own separate computer that I was able to borrow from my dad's game collection, and load things from there onto my computer, while he was playing something else. Sharing physical hardware is fine; it's a physical fact that you can't olay two computer games at once if you don't have to computers. The difference here is that you have two computers, a license to play two games, and access to the data for both games, but there's an artificial limitatio
    • I agree, if a friend can't play one of your games while you play another, it's not much of a sharing system. I like your idea about one account per game. Actually, I hate it, but it's about the only way to get around Steam's policy. I'm generally pretty happy with Steam, but this ranks a big "meh".
      • by cbhacking (979169)

        One account / game is the way to go if you absolutely must use Steam. It lets you do such crazy things as re-sell games (unofficially) as well...

        DRM is bullshit, Steam included. GOG, HumbleBundle (the not-DRMed ones, thanks), or direct from the dev!

        • by lgw (121541)

          Is GOG still strictly non-DRM? They've started selling current games, so do they actually say the games they sell don't have their own DRM of any sort? That would actually be pretty cool.

          I have a few GOG titles, but I'm starting to look at it as a general-purpose alternative to Steam, mostly because every damn time I want to play a game on Steam, I have to wait for the steam client to patch itself with a 100MB patch. WTF Valve?

          • by cbhacking (979169)

            GOG is absolutely, strictly, no DRM. Games which had DRM, they generally patch it out. Some games will still say things like "enter word 7, line 5, page 23 from the manual" but you just click OK and they go away.

            It's actually really funny too; they released The Witcher 2 (CDProjekt RED owns GOG) on both Steam and GOG. The widely distributed pirated version? Steam with the DRM cracked. The completley DRM-free version, which cost the same amount, we mostly ignored for large-scale piracy. Proof enough that DRM

          • Their site still says "Every game on GOG.com is 100% DRM-free", and in my experience, it's completely true.
        • by Agent0013 (828350)

          One account / game is the way to go if you absolutely must use Steam. It lets you do such crazy things as re-sell games (unofficially) as well...

          This is actually a pretty good idea. If you make a new Steam account for each game you buy you can sell individual accounts if you want, therefore selling the digital game. You can also share individual accounts with your friends. But most importantly, you share the individual accounts with your own main account. That way you don't need to log out and back in to different accounts to play different games. You get the benefit of separate games and accounts with the benefit of playing them from one account. T

    • You are missing the point. They are trying to emulate the home console, and game swapping (as best they can). Not give 10 of your friends free copies of all of your games.

      • by cbhacking (979169)

        No. If it were "as best they can" then I could hand my roommate a virtual copy of game X to play while I play game Y, just like I can do with real games. It's not like there's some technical reason they can't do this. When I share a copy of a game with a friend, I temporarily lose access to that copy of that game. I don't lose access to my entire library (for the pedantic: I don't have to kick him off if I want to play something else from my library, which amounts to losing access because I am not a dick to

        • No, because when you own a console, only one person can play it at a time.
          This is to replace that, so you can have a single computer, that everyone can use, and they can all use their own Steam account, but play each others games.

          But they go even a little further, as it is not tied to a single computer.

      • by DrGamez (1134281)

        Someone give you some points, this message is being missed a lot.

        This isn't the holy grail of DRM freedoms, but this is a pretty HUGE step forward.

  • Even though the first posters all respond like they've been touched in a bad place, I think it's a great idea. There are several games I don't really play and some of my friends would like to try. Or vice versa. Brilliant.

    • by Ardyvee (2447206)

      The only issue is that you can't play while your friend plays. Proof! [puu.sh]

      And no, I don't think I'm misunderstanding as it doessay library instead of game.

    • by oGMo (379)

      They added a feature. Despite the whiners, it's not taking anything away, and if someone doesn't like it, they don't have to use it.

      I would like to see resale (or at least trading) of games, but this isn't a bad feature and certainly has its uses. Going on vacation or something? Let a friend play your stuff. Etc.

  • If you play any one game from your library it kicks the person you're sharing with from your library. A library is an all at once or nothing share. So my wife can't play Skyrim from my account while I'm playing Borderlands 2. Without being able to share individual games, the feature is pretty worthless. Step in the right direction, sure, but barely. I still have to make sure I'm not in my account (or go offline) if my wife wants to play one of my games. It's pretty much no change from how we have to do

    • by DrGamez (1134281)

      So they added functionality, but it's not the functionality you wanted, so the entire feature is worthless?

      Christ.

  • by geekoid (135745)

    About Fucking Time.

  • Interesting... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by seebs (15766) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @02:54PM (#44822503) Homepage

    This is sorta cool.

    Oddly, this ties closely to the main barrier for me with Steam games: Steam's DRM, while very open in a large number of ways, is more restrictive than any other DRM system I've ever seen in one key way, which is that all Steam games on an account are subject to the same simultaneous usage requirement. Many of the games I play are turn-based games which I might well leave up and running for hours at a time, returning to them occasionally. Some are little fidgets I might play for brief windows. And with Steam's system, although I can have games installed on two machines, I can't play games on two machines at once.

    Yes, I am aware of the "offline mode" option. I have asked Valve, and they have stated that it is specifically forbidden to use offline mode to run games from the same library on two machines at once, no matter what. So if I have two adjacent computers, and I want to play Game A on one machine, and Game B on another, I can't do that if I got them through Steam. This is sort of weird to me, because even the most restrictive of other DRM systems I'm aware of allow you to install one game on one machine, and a different game on another machine, and run them at the same time.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Just use a different Steam account for each game. Problem solved.
      • by cbhacking (979169)

        This eliminates many of the conveniences of Steam (background updates for all your games, friends list, cross-game perks, no need to "swap CDs" (swap accounts, in this case), plus it adds the hassle of needing to create new accounts all the time. I think it's also forbidden by their TOS, but I could be wrong (most online services prohibit this, but not all). However, it is in fact the only way to use Steam with paid games without getting shafted by their DRM.

        Me? I just don't buy shit on Steam anymore.

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @03:10PM (#44822815) Homepage

    See a family member's installed game that you want to play? Send them a request to authorize the computer. Once authorized, the lender's library of Steam games become available for others on the machine to access, download and play.

    There are some games that my neighbor plays that he won't even let his kids watch, much less play on their own. I remember that there was one where the (at the time) 9 year old was able to download the demo for free, which he only knew about because his dad & uncle played the game.

    If this were truly a 'family' plan, you'd be able to set which games a specific account is allowed to have access to.

  • Baby step (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday September 11, 2013 @05:00PM (#44824159)

    This isn't as good as I'd hoped. But its not "bad". Its not taking anything away we didn't have before, and it gives us options we didn't used to have.

    I am happy about this feature, but not satisfied with it.

    It lets me create steam accounts for my kids and let them use my library. This is good -- now my friends won't message them, invite them to play games, etc. Now they can each have their own steam-cloud save files, and their own acheivements, etc.

    Up until now I've just logged in for them, told them they aren't allowed to buy anything, and to ignore any messages or invites. And they've been good about it but this still makes it better.

    But the big problem I had (and still have) with steam is the complete lock on the entire library. If my kids were playing on my account before, I couldn't play. I couldn't play the same game (and I was fine with that) but I also couldn't play a different game -- if my son is playing scribblenauts I can't play Left 4 Dead. And I have always disagreed with that.

    As it stands now, the situation there hasn't changed. If my son is logged in to his account, playing a game on my library I still can't play a different game. So for me, although this feature is a step forward it still falls short.

  • Thank you so very much for this awesome new feature Valve. I feel so grateful that you have graciously allowed me to share my purchases from your company with my friends and family.

    In other news, book publishers are going to be providing us with the same fantastically free and open benefits.

    From now on, you will be able to share your books with other people. The only catch is that if you have loaned a book to a friend and want to read a different book, your friend will be notified and have a few minutes

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