Valve, the company behind the largest digital PC market Steam, has just announced that they will be allowing Steam users to have a family sharing plan with up to 10 members. Basically what this means is that friends/family will be able to play games purchased by a single user. This is a huge step forward in the digital market where one of the biggest arguments for physical media is being able to share purchases with friends.
So what does this really mean for the users. From the Steam Family Sharing Beta page it looks like any Steam user can authorize 10 people. It’s not clear if these 10 different members have to be in the same household to access the game or if it can be done remotely for the digital rights. What is clear is that there is a 10 “device” limit on sharing.
There is a couple of other restrictions that will keep people from abusing the system. The owner and a shared member can not play the game at a same time and only one shared member can play a game at once. This will keep players from buying a co-op game and playing it at the same time.
Other game restrictions are also going to be in place. Games that have serial codes verification from other services and subscription based games will not be available due to restrictions. All of that being said, players will be able to download and play DLC for all of the games if the original owner owns the DLC.
All in all it sounds like a great service up front and sounds very familiar to the digital rights management that was going to be in place for the Xbox One. There is still some questions on the horizon such as what happens if the owner of the original copy of the game is in offline mode or how the service is going to function in the real world. We will reach out to Valve for answers to some of these questions and update as soon as we can.