The Venn diagram of Steam sharing. Left: people begging for DOTA 2 access. Right: people attempting to scam you.

Valve has unveiled a forthcoming scheme by which friends and family will be able to access (on request) your Steam library. Steam Family Sharing will allow people to authorise up to ten different Steam accounts to share their games with. Certain games will be restricted (ones which need an “additional third-party key, account, or subscription,”) and you can’t dodge region restrictions but otherwise everything will be open to play.

You’ll be able to authorise other accounts from your Account Settings in Steam, or you can just wait for a buddy to ask you nicely whether he/she can borrow your games. It’s only possible for one person to be playing games from an account at once, however, so if the main account ‘holder’ starts playing something it’ll offer the borrower a chance to buy the current game and then shunt them off.

People borrowing games will have access to everything the account holder has (DLC etc) but will not be able to purchase additional DLC themselves. If someone you’ve shared access with gets caught out cheating or committing fraud, you may (probably will) have your sharing privileges revoked.

If you want to try to get in on the early beta access for this system, you need to join the Family Sharing Group on Steam. Valve says it will select about one thousand accounts from this group to take part in a mid-September beta.

This all sounds like a rather good idea, so hopefully it won’t take too long to roll out for everybody to try.

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