Today, Valve announced a brand new way to share your entire Steam library of games with people you know and trust. It’s called Steam Family Sharing, and beta access is being served up to a limited few. With Steam Family Sharing, up to 10 computers can be authorized to access your Steam library at one time. Naturally there are some limitations, but everything seems like a great deal so far.
Here’s how it works. Let’s say you have a friend that really wants to play one of the games in your library. Your friend would send you a Steam request via email to authorize their computer. From that point on, your friend will be able to download and play just about any game in your Steam library for as long as they want. They’ll earn achievements and have their saved games uploaded to Steam cloud just as if they’d purchased the game. The catch is a single library can’t be accessed simultaneously. If more than one account tries to access the same library at the same time, the person who is borrowing the game will have a few minutes to purchase it before they are logged out. Priority is always given to the owner of the games.
The person borrowing the game will also have access to any DLC the owner may have purchased. One limitation to game borrowing is in the case of subscription-based games, or games that require some kind of third-party authorization. Anything other than that is fair game.
Beta access will be provided soon.