It’s not that gamers aren’t familiar with the idea of buying a game and sharing it with someone else, after all, that’s why you’ve got those three save game slots. It’s just that since the advent of digitally delivered games, achievement trophies, and Real ID accounts, it’s not something that we’ve dared to expect will be easy to do.
Which is why heads are exploding across the internet today, with the news that Valve, the company behind the massive digital distribution service for PCs that is Steam, plans to create Steam Family Sharing, a service that would allow users to share their entire game library with other users, on up to ten other devices.
Says their release:
Steam Family Sharing allows close friends and family members 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 a shared computer.
If you see a game you’re interested in a friend’s profile, you can request that they authorize your computer as one of their Family Sharing devices. Then they accept, and you get install and playing access to their library. That’s pretty much it. Now, if you’re like me, you’re immediately wondering what the catch is here, how Steam could possibly make this a monetarily feasible decision, what reason you ever have to buy your own copy of a game ever again. Well, first, there’s that 10 device cap, which I’ll admit is incredibly generous. But primarily, some games simply won’t be available for sharing, because they’re “titles that require an additional third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play.” So you’re probably not going to be sharing your Arkham games with your bestie, not with that Windows Live account login.
Additionally, like every other time you let your kid sibling play the Nintendo, as the owner of the game you reserve the right to boot them off at any time so that you can play.
A shared library may only be accessed by one user at a time… As the lender, you may always access and play your games at any time. If you decide to start playing when a friend is already playing one of your games, he/she will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing.
Valve expects to be rolling the service out in beta soon, so if you’d like to get in on that testing period, you should probably go check out their page on it. And tell some friends about it, as long as their people you don’t mind arguing over who gets to play a game with.