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Steam Picks Up Axed Family Sharing Plan From Xbox One

Posted by Anthony Bacchus

Valve takes a cue from Microsoft

Two weeks after the initial Xbox One reveal, Microsoft put up a webpage on how games licensing worked on the console at the time. This was obviously before the company dramatically reversed the "always online" policies to a more traditional and familiar approach that gamers are comfortable with.

Not all of the policies were seen as restrictive however; One of the fatal circumstances of the changes was how digital games were shared. Xbox One players would've been able to share their games library with 10 other people, no matter the location. Since then, Microsoft has openly admitted that the "Family Sharing" plan is still a possibility in the Xbox One's future and will bring it back "when the time is right."

Well, that time might be a lot sooner than expected if Steam has anything to do with it. Today, Valve announced that Steam will launch "Steam Family Sharing," and it mirrors the Xbox One's original plan almost exactly. The limited beta will launch next week and it too will let Steam users share their digital collections with "close friends and family members." A limit of 10 people will be able to play your games (but not all at once) and each of them can earn Steam achievements as well as saving their own game progress in the cloud.

"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," said Valve's Anna Sweet. "Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests."

Some Steam games can't be shared due to technical limitations like third-party keys, accounts or subscriptions such as MMO's. Also, your entire collection would have to be shared, meaning you won't be able to choose what games you want shared. Only one user at a time can access your digital library but you will always have access to them whenever you're ready to play. You won't be able to play the same game together either, so if your friend is in the middle of wasting some Vox Populi in BioShock Infinite, a notification is somehow sent to them, giving them a "few minutes" to quit the game or a prompt to buy the game for their own library. When it comes to DLC, a user can also play the additional content that you purchased but won't have the ability to download new DLC since they don't technically own the game.

While the Xbox One's sharing plan wasn't completely detailed, early reports indicated that the owner and one other person WERE allowed to play together simultaneously. Microsoft also had plans on launching an online trading service where owners could essentially trade their digital games in, similar to how GameStop works.

The timing of the Steam Family Sharing definitely intrigues us here at the pX HQ. Has Steam been cooking this plan before or after the announcement of the Xbox One? Do you imagine that Microsoft will bring back their sharing plan in time for launch now?


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User Comments (5)



MegaKillScreen said:

Well done Steam! It's a shame that Microsoft didn't keep this feature in the first place but hopefully they will reintroduce it at some stage.



Generik said:

I find this very annoying. I was really looking forward to this feature and thanks to what history I'm sure will reveal was a vocal minority, Microsoft took it away. Maybe this will accelerate Microsoft into re-introducing it for the Xbox One.



Knux said:

Why can't Microsoft have Family Sharing without the DRM BS? Gamers should have their cake and eat it too.



Anthinator said:

@Knux I agree. Why can't they bring it back as an incentive for digital purchases only? For those that want to continue using physical media, then they still can. Let them make up their mind if they want to jump to digital



Its not all good news...

You cant use a family members library if they are playing any other game.

For instance, little johnny is playing your copy of RACE 07 (!) and you fire up Super Meat Boy. Little Johnny gets kicked off mid race.

Renders sharing pretty useless imho...

No reason for this restriction other than to annoy people.

Nice one valve.

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