Forums, image boards, and social media are rife with discussion about steam’s announcement of their new game sharing system. Using this, Steam users will be able to lend their games out for the first time. Also, despite the fact that it’s supposed to be family oriented, the announcement states that this will also work with friends.
The first question is, of course, just how lending out digital content works. The user will have to find a game in a friend or family member’s collection that they want to play. This will send a request to that game owner, where they can then authorize that computer to download and play the game. This feature will be available for up to 10 other devices, so users could even include their entire circle of friends. As for whether or not you have to authorize specific games, the announcement dictates that the sharing feature applies to your entire account. Now, while users can give access to a game to anyone they authorize, that person and only that person may play it. Unfortunately, this won’t lead to any 11 player lan parties with only one copy of a game.
There’s a couple key features to note about the lending program when it is implemented. For example, any DLC the game owner possesses will also be accessible to anyone who borrows the corresponding game. There’s some restrictions in the program as well, though. Any games that would otherwise take a product key, or a subscription, are not eligible to be shared. In the future, there also may be developer restrictions on which games can be shared. Lastly, users can not use the sharing feature to bypass region restrictions.
All in all, the system isn’t accessible quite yet, but will be going into closed beta soon. For now, make sure to join the ‘Family Sharing’ group on Steam to sign up for the beta, and possibly get access later next week.