Steam Update Files Imply Game-Sharing

The latest Steam Beta update files seem to suggest gamers will be able to set some of their games as shared with their friends. Exciting? Very yes.
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The idea of gamers actually owning their games is a serious question in the modern entertainment climate.  DRM services like Origin and Steam apply limitations on how games can be shared for various licensing and security reasons (and arguably greed) while the upcoming Xbox One functions more like an online DRM service than a traditional console in the same sense of limiting what players can actually do with the games they buy.

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Steam looks like it might actually be changing how it handles this digital ownership in the near future.  Some of the files in the latest update to Steam’s beta version allude to having a separate library of shared games.  Being able to let your friends play purchased games on Steam would definitely be a step away from where most of the gaming industry seems to be heading, and from the looks of it gamers would not even lose access to the games themselves.  If they try to access a game their friend is currently playing through the shared library, Steam will prompt them to quit.

These guys make it easy to like Steam.

I have been wondering when we would see something like this for a while, now.  Certain countries have laws regarding the right of first sale applying to digital purchases like games as well, meaning the functionality would have to exist for games to be capable of sharing and/or resale.  While resale might be trickier on Steam than a few lines in the beta update files, the steps are moving in that direction.

The main questions remaining is when we can expect to see this type of functionality go live, and when it will become expected enough for the other suppliers of similar DRM programs to follow suit.  It always takes one person or company making the first steps before a good idea catches on…

And this is a good idea.

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Writer, gamer, and generally hopeful beneath a veneer of cynicism.