New Steam Families beta overhauls game sharing on PC and Steam Deck

Valve has unveiled a new Steam Families system, looking to overhaul how household game sharing works within Steam, with the end goal being to replace the existing Steam Family Sharing and Steam Family View systems.

One of the main upsides to the new Steam Families is that it will be slightly more permissive and flexible when multiple people want to play from the same pool of games. There can be up to six people in a Steam Family, and all of their owned games will be pooled together and these can be played on a game-by-game and license-by-license basis – so if two people own the same game, then any two family members can play using those licenses, and two people can play different games from a shared library. You can, at least, play offline from the family library. That’s in contrast to to the current system, where a shared library in its entirety can only be accessed by any one person at a time, and limited to pre-approved devices.

All in all, that’s a pretty big step forward, considering how Steam Decks and other PC gaming handhelds are making it more likely for there to be multiple PCs in a home. However, it’s a step behind the Xbox and PlayStation set up, where you can designate a home console that anyone can play on and still access all your account games on another console. This will likely be down to the terms that Steam has with publishers, and any publisher is also able to opt their games out from sharing.

There’s also plenty of caveats here, subject to change and review.. The explicit intention is that this is for family members living in the same household, and so if you leave one family then you cannot join another family until one year has passed – you can rejoin the previous family at any time though. There’s also various games that will require third-party keys, accounts or subscriptions, and those are not shared. Oh, and if a family members gets banned for cheating in a game, that ban will also apply to the owner of that game, so don’t share with people you don’t trust not to cheat.

Steam Families also bundles in the parental controls of Steam Family View, and more. Adults will be able to manage and control child account access through restricting access to Steam features, setting age gates, playtime limits (with reporting, and the ability to approve or deny requests for temporary access. Children will also be able to request a game purchase via Steam that adults can then approve, streamlining the current process of buying, gifting, and redeeming.

To access Steam Families now, you’ll need to opt in for the Steam Client Beta – the option is found in Setting > Interface – and then invite family members all over again.

For more details see Valve’s detailed FAQ

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