In another extremely smart and extremely innovative move, Steam has announced its plans today to launch a new “Family Sharing” feature into the popular game service and download portal. The new feature, which is said to enter a limited beta period in the near future, will enable multiple users of the same computer to play each other’s distinctly owned games on their personal accounts for the first time, while still maintaining their own progress and achievements via cloud auto-saving and storage.
Close friends and family members will be able to authorize their shared computer by sending requests to one another that ask if they can be allowed access to play a specific game that they do not own themselves, categorized thereafter as “shared games.” It’s certainly a bold new direction for Steam, and one that will most likely come applauded by the large majority of Steam users (especially given the fact that Family Sharing seems to be the complete opposite way of handling the similar issue of Xbox One’s felled attempts at DRM restrictions).
However, the only real restriction that we seem to find about the new feature so far is that two people will be unable to access and play the same account-licensed game at the same time. If they do, the close friend or family member will then be asked if they want to purchase and download the game for themselves. Along these lines, Steam is also quick to note in their official Family Sharing FAQ that not every Steam game will be able to be shared in this manner: the most notable exceptions being those that require third-party keys, accounts, or subscriptions.
While there’s no word yet on when exactly the new Steam Family Sharing program will be open to the public, Steam is letting its users sign up to be included in the beta period right over here on the official Family Sharing launch page, where they can also read the full FAQ about the upcoming feature, and find out what it means for them and the other Steam users in their household.