Back in June, a rumor started circulating that Valve was creating a service in witch users would be able to share and borrow games through their Steam service. Gaining steam after the announcement of Microsoft's Xbox One digital policy, it seemed to be a direct response to what Microsoft had planned for their upcoming Xbox One console.
Fast forward to earlier today, and it seems that the rumor had some weight behind it, as Steam has released an official press release announcing their Steam Family Sharing plan, going into beta next week. The plan will allow multiple people to play one purchased version of an owned game on their own account. The official press release is as follows:
September 11, 2013 - Steam Family Sharing, a new service feature that allows close friends and family members to share their libraries of Steam games, is coming to Steam, a leading platform for the delivery and management of PC, Mac, and Linux games and software. The feature will become available next week, in limited beta on Steam.
Steam Family Sharing is designed for close friends and family members to play one another's Steam games while each earning their own Steam achievements and storing their own saves and application data to the Steam cloud. It's all enabled by authorizing a shared computer.
"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."
Once a device is authorized, the lender's library of Steam games becomes available for others on the machine to access, download, and play. Though simultaneous usage of an account's library is not allowed, the lender may always access and play his games at any time. If he decides to start playing when a friend is borrowing one of his games, the friend will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing.
This is huge, and could be a good sign that Microsoft may still consider bringing the feature back post DRM reversal. Major Nelson even made personal comments on such topic via Reddit:
Not much to add here...I'll just say it was a good idea - right?
So we have Microsoft's original plan to provide such a service while the face of the brand promotes it as a good feature on a competing brand. It is safe to say that this advancement form Steam next to recent rumors of Microsoft brining back said family sharing feature makes it a sure fire guarantee.