Heck yeah, Valve is finally fixing Steam Family Sharing so it doesn’t suck


Last night, Valve announced a major – and long-awaited and desperately needed – revamp of its existing “family sharing” system so good that actual, real-life, not-at-all-fictional gamer families will want to use it.

If you’re already part of a “family” on Steam, you know that the system is byzantine at best. Adding your kids to the family sharing system is a serious hassle, as is buying games for them, dealing with shared libraries being in use, and forcing the client to use the local version of a game rather than a shared one. It was seriously due for some upgrades, and now it’s getting them.

The new system is just called Steam Families – don’t expect flashier branding than that from ye olde Steam – but at least superficially it does appear to fix most of the major problems with the system. Shared libraries will continue on as they are now, allowing everyone in the group to play approved games from everyone else’s account, with their own saves and so forth. However, the parental controls and roles have been seriously improved, so parents can set playtime limits, approve games, block various Steam features, and approve purchasing requests (so parents don’t have to trot across the house with a credit card or buy everything as a gift).

My favorite addition is that library locking is no longer a problem: If I’m playing Project Gorgon, my kid can still swipe my copy of No Man’s Sky, and we can all sandbox in peace, no nagging him to get off my library.

“Let’s say that you are in a family with 4 members and that you own a copy of Portal 2 and a copy of Half-Life. At any time, any one member can play Portal 2 and another can play Half-Life. If two of you would like to play Portal 2 at the same time, someone else in the family will need to purchase a copy of the game. After that purchase, there are two owned copies of Portal 2 across the family and any two members can play at the same time.”

Of course, it doesn’t really work that great for MMORPGs, since MMOs usually require a third-party account somewhere along the line, but it should help for most games. It actually looks a lot like the gaming version of Google Family: It’s fairly barebones, but it’s so much better than the alternatives that we’ll take it anyway.

Do note that families are limited to six people in a single household (it sounds as if Valve will be monitoring this for abuse) and that there’s a year-long cooldown for switching families, which seems… kinda harsh. Also note: “If a family member gets banned for cheating while playing your copy of a game, you (the game owner) will also be banned in that game.” Ouch!

Source: Steam. Cheers, Onyx.
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