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Steam Family Sharing Lets You Loan Out Digital Downloads

by Fox Van Allen on September 13, 2013

Steam clientAs Barney the Purple Dinosaur taught us, sharing is caring. When it comes to digital video game downloads, though, sharing is usually prohibited thanks to a complicated digital rights management (DRM) structure.

Just in time for Steam’s 10th birthday, the online game software marketplace wants to make sharing a great title with a friend or family member just a little bit easier, even if there’s no cartridge or disc to hand over. To that end, the company is introducing Steam Family Sharing, a way to share your downloaded game library with a small handful of trusted users.

With Family Sharing, you can authorize up to 10 computers to share your Steam games with. So long as you’re not playing a game yourself, any of these authorized machines can access your library. If you try to play while a friend is borrowing one of your titles, Steam will give the second party the option to either save and quit or purchase the game themselves.

I can’t even begin to count the number of games I’ve purchased after borrowing or playing at a friend’s house. Kudos to Steam for understanding that sharing doesn’t hurt the bottom line – it can actually help it. (Are you listening, Xbox?)

The family-sharing beta will begin this month on an invite-only basis; there’s no timetable yet for a full Steam-wide rollout. To request an invite to the beta, you’ll need to join the Family Sharing Group on the Steam community. Visit for more details.


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