Turns out Steam users are quite the sharers. At least, that’s what I’m guessing from the new rule change to the Family Sharing Beta. Previously you could grant access to your game library to as many machines as you wanted. Now there is a ten shares limit. Sounds like Valve found people were sharing their games with many more accounts than they expected.
Plus, you have to authorise specific users, too.
“We’ve made a change to the way Family Sharing works in the most recent Steam client beta,” wrote Valve in the change announcement. “Lenders must now identify the Steam users who may access and play their shared games on shared computers. This allows lenders more control while reducing the risk of VAC or other bans resulting from an unknown user accessing and abusing shared games on an authorized machine.
“Family Sharing is now a two-factor authorization process, where up to ten Steam accounts on up to ten machines may be authorized to share your library at a given time. Any of these ten users may log into any of your ten authorized machines to access and play your shared games. Additionally, users may still request access to your shared library by sending you a request from any machine where you've installed games.”
So, say you lived in a house with ten people - I don’t know, maybe you have problems living alone after your teddy bears came to life and tried to kidnap you - and you wanted to let them play your Steam games and have their own saves, achievements, et al, then you could authorise each of their Steam accounts on your computer. That way they’d simply log into Steam on your computer and all your games would be there for them to play, too.
You could also go around each of their computers and authorise their machines so that they could play on your Steam library when you were on your computer watching documentaries like ‘When Teddy Bears Attack’ and ‘Night of the Fluffy Knives’. Though, only one of them would be able to use your library at a time.
However,if an eleventh person moved into your home they wouldn’t be able to have an account with access to your library.
Steam Family Sharing could become a massive feature of the upcoming Steam Machines. I really want my friends who don’t already use Steam to buy one and for me to be able to grant access to my entire game library, a collection of games I’ve amassed over a decade. How utterly brilliant would that be? I’ve a flatmate who recently bought a Playstation 4 and a couple of the launch games. He completed those and didn’t have much else to do with his very expensive machine. If he’d waited for a Steam Machine I could have given him more than 400 games for free.
Similarly, if you had one Steam Machine in a house’s shared living room and you all authorised your Steam libraries on it then you could easily switch between what set of games you could play on the thing.
Family Sharing promises to be a great feature once it’s out of beta. If you fancy trying it out before it’s released the details of how to sign up are in the FAQ.