Valve have announced that Steam Family Sharing is now available to all users on Steam. This means that players who share a computer can now also share a games library, while family and friends can authorise their games to be played through each other’s accounts on separate devices.
The process couldn’t be simpler, either. To begin Steam Family Sharing all you have to do is have Steam Security enabled in your account settings. Then, if a friend sees a game in your library that they fancy, they can send a request for access to your games. Once accepted the accounts will be linked, and your friends can access your games at their leisure, as long as they have an internet connection. Your linked accounts will also be able to earn achievements and keep their own saves as normal, no fuss required.
While that all sounds well and good, there are of course a couple of limitations in place. First off, you can only share your library with up to 5 other accounts at any given time, though you can authorise access to your library on up to 10 devices. Only one person can access the library at a time, which means if you, as the primary account holder, want to start gaming while someone else is using your library, your friend will get kicked off. You also can’t share DLC on its own as it is permanently linked to the base game, so friends cant access your DLC and use it in conjunction with their already owned game.
All that said, it seems like a pretty amazing deal. If you link accounts with a friend and you both have games the other wants to play, you can simply use each others libraries at the same time. Many Steam members also sit idle on chat for hours on end, which would give friends and family members ample time to use their library. It may not be a perfect design with unlimited access, but Steam Family Sharing sounds like something I, for one, would be happy to get on board with.
If sharing games on Steam sounds like something you would like to get involved with too, be sure to check out the FAQs on their website for the full conditions of the feature, then head to your Steam client to get sharing.