Valve announced Wednesday that Steam users will be able to share their library of PC games with friends and family as part of the Steam Family Sharing program. Microsoft announced a similar feature for the Xbox One this summer before it was lost as part of series of policy reversals for the next-gen console.
Steam Family Sharing will be launched in beta form next week for the PC, Mac and Linux service in beta form with the ability to share an entire library of games with up to ten other devices. Once shared, the borrower can download and play any game from the lender's library complete with their own Steam achievements and saves to the Steam cloud.
Additionally, users can request access to a friend or family member's library if they see a game they want to play.
"Our customers have expressed a desire to share their digital games among friends and family members, just as current retail games, books, DVDs, and other physical media can be shared,” explained Anna Sweet of Valve. “Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests."
There are some restrictions to the scheme, however such as only one user can have access to the library at a time. This means that the borrower is notified when the lender begins playing their copy of Skyrim and is given a couple of minutes to save and exit their session before being booted off.
Games that require a third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play cannot be shared between accounts either.
Those interested in trying out the Steam Family Sharing beta should sign up to be part of this Steam group. Valve will choose 1,000 users to test the service to begin with.
Microsoft's Family Share plan for the Xbox One was similar to Steam's in that it allowed access to an owner's game library for up to 10 friends or family members. Unlike Steam, however, the program would allow of these friends access to the lent games at any time according to the FAQ that was released.
The Xbox One sharing plan was lost though when Microsoft backed off its online DRM plans. Chief Product Officer Marc Whitten said it may return to the console sometime after launch though.