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Valve outlines new Steam Family Sharing plan

A new way to share games with up to six people

Valve outlined its plans for a new Steam family sharing program currently entering beta testing on the PC games platform, and it’s meant to make game ownership less of a headache for households. You can opt into the beta program from Steam Settings and the Interface -> Client beta participation options.

“Household” is loosely used at the current point, as Valve has few-to-no restrictions on who counts as a family, though that will likely change over time.

“While we know that families come in many shapes and sizes, Steam Families is intended for a household of up to 6 close family members,” Valve said in the beta announcement. “To that end, as we monitor the usage of this feature, we may adjust the requirements for participating in a Steam Family or the number of members over time to keep usage in line with this intent.”

Valve didn’t say how they might enforce the “close family in the same household” criteria.

Whatever the definition, here’s how it works. Anyone who joins the family group has access to all the games owned by the group’s members and any paid DLC that a group member purchased. Some games aren’t eligible, including games that require a third-party account or a subscription, and developers can opt out of family sharing if they need to.

Group members marked as adults can set parental controls for child members, including daily playtime limits and control over which games children can access. There’s also a purchase request feature where any group member can suggest a new game.

Valve didn’t say how long Steam Family Sharing will stay in beta, but the company will continue tweaking and adding new features before the function fully launches.