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Steam Family Sharing Enters Beta Next Week

Valve has announced that a new Family Sharing plan that will users to grant library access to up to ten devices will enter beta next week. With the new setup, users can allow others to download content and play most games when the primary account holder is not logged in. 

Lenders will also be able to bump others off of their libraries, though borrowers will have a few minutes warning. During that time, they can finish their session or purchase the title on their own to continue.

The first pool of beta participants will be limited to 1,000. In order to be considered, you'll need to join the Family Sharing group.

DLC will be accessible to borrowers, but those that don't own the base game won't be able to purchase new add-on content. Additionally, account holders will be responsible for any misconduct that occurs on their accounts. In other words, don't give access to people who are going to glitch, cheat, and otherwise get you banned.


Our Take
The plan navigates dicey waters to find a middle-ground between publishers and consumers by satisfying both. A single license can only be in use on one machine at a time, and the mechanism by which borrowers are notified that their time is up incentivizes new purchases.

For families with multiple computers in the house, this is a smart solution that enables individual accounts while sharing purchases across users. Finding a balance between being consumer- and publisher-friendly isn't easy, but Valve seems to have found a good middle-ground, at least on paper. I have to wonder if this is what Microsoft had planned before the reversal on DRM policies.

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