Steam, the PC games vendor of choice for most users, announced Steam Family Sharing today, and has taken the internet by storm.
Steam Family Sharing allows users to share their game library with close friends and families, in a service launching later this year. Closed beta access for the family sharing service will be available later this month, and steam account holders can join the Steam Family Sharing Group. At the time of the beta, Steam will choose and notify 1,000 accounts (supposedly at random) to allow access to the beta service.
From the announcement, which can be viewed here, it appears that if “johnnylovesgames” wants to access his friend/family member “susiepwnsn00bs'” Steam account, he would simply send a request to her for access. “Susiepwnsn00bs” could then authorize his account, giving him access to her steam libraries (provided they aren’t in different regional encoded areas, and the game does not require any additional 3rd party keys or subscriptions).
“Johnnylovesgames” could then download individual games to his device for use on her account through the cloud, including access to DLC that “susiepwnsn00bs” had previously purchased and downloaded. During the time that “Johnnylovesgames” is playing on her library, if she wanted to access those titles, he would be notified in-game that his session would end within a few moments – giving him an opportunity to buy the title, or log out.
While some folks are crying foul at the generally positive reaction to the Steam Family Sharing announcement, specifically due to the many similarities between this service and the originally-proposed Xbox Family sharing plans – this seems like a great step for digital game lending.
Happy gaming, and oh – by the way, the Steam Family Sharing group on Steam is currently counting over 5,000 members hoping for beta access. If you want to sign up, do it now!