One of the many neat features of the gaming platform is the ability to share games on Steam among people you know. If a sibling wants to try before they buy or wants to play something you bought while you’re playing something else, they can. The system is called Steam Family Library Sharing and it works quite well.
Steam Family Library Sharing was introduced a year or so ago and is designed to allow you to share your games with others. Normally, you cannot share the games you buy but with this feature Steam allows members of the same family access to each other’s games. When some AAA games can cost upwards of $60, this is a very useful feature indeed!
While the feature is called Steam Family Library Sharing, you can share games between friends too. Apparently you can have up to ten different Steam accounts within Steam Family Library Sharing and can be used by any of them. The only catch is that only one other person at a time can use the feature. That means no LAN games with ten friends using the same copy of a game unfortunately.
Steam Family Library Sharing
Steam Family Library Sharing needs a little configuration before you begin using it but it doesn’t take long. First you need to set up Steam Guard and then link your Steam account to the person you want to share with. Once you add games to the shared library, you’re good to go.
- Log into your own Steam account.
- Select Steam from the top menu and go into Settings, then Account.
- Select Manage Steam Guard Account Security. Select an option for two-factor authentication if you don’t already have it enabled.
- In Settings, go to Family.
- Check the box next to Authorize Library Sharing on this computer.
- If you share a computer with others, select Authorize this computer.
- If the person you want to share with uses a different computer, log into Steam on their computer with your login and select Authorize this computer.
- Log out of Steam and let the person log back into their own Steam account.
Once the person you want to share with has logged back in, they should see a list of games from your own library in their library. They can then select a game and request access to that game. A popup window should appear in Steam with the option to Request Access.
If they select that option, you will receive an email requesting access to the game. The email will include a text link which you need to select in order for them to install and play that game. As far as I can tell, this needs to be done for each individual game.
Using Steam Family Library Sharing
When you set up Steam Family Library Sharing, you share your entire games library. You cannot hide games from being shared but you can restrict what games you allow to be played. If you don’t respond to that email request, the other person cannot play the game so you still have some control.
If you find you want to play a game and it is already being played, you will be warned that it is already in use. You can either play something else, ask the person playing it to stop or take back control of that game. If you select Play in that game, the other user will see a popup notice giving them five minutes to find a safe place or to save before they lose access. It’s a neat feature but needs some social management on your part to keep things sweet.
Steam Family Library Sharing shares all your games with a couple of limitations. Games that use a third party app or those with subscriptions cannot be shared. For example, games such as The Division that also require Uplay cannot be shared as Steam cannot authorize the game without Uplay. The same for any subscription games or some that use season passes.
The second limitation is with DLC. If the person ‘borrowing’ the game does not have the base game, they will have access to the entire game and DLC. If the person has the base game, they will not be able to use the game or its DLC.
Steam Family Library Sharing is a neat idea that goes further than just family. I can understand the single user limitation and while annoying, for those of us with dozens of games in our library, it shouldn’t be too much of a challenge.