Dedicated Steam users collect large catalogs of games in their libraries, but in the past there was no way to share them. Today, the Family Library Sharing feature allows gamers to give others access to their libraries. Once a person is authorized they can play most of your games.
While sharing games with friends and family may seem easy, there are some conditions and limitations. Read on to find out how sharing works.
Share your Steam library with friends and family
Family Library Sharing allows one user to authorize up to 10 devices at any one time. On each of these devices, up to five accounts can choose games from your game library to play. Here’s how to turn on sharing.
- Log in to your Steam account on the computer you wish to authorize.
- Go to the Settings menu.
- Go to “Account” and make sure Steam Guard is enabled.
- If not, verify your email address with Steam.
- Go to the “Family” tab.
- Check the ‘Allow library sharing on this computer’ button.
- In the list below the sharing option, check the boxes for accounts you want to share with.
After you complete these steps and save your settings, other Steam users will be able to access your library and play games you own.
You can also request access to get someone else’s library.
- Enable Steam Guard on your account.
- If someone else uses the same computer to play games, you can see their Steam account’s games in your library.
- Click on that game and select “Request Access” to request access.
- The owner must then open their email to click or tap the authorization link.
- You should now be able to access the game.
You can also choose to buy the game, but it’s not necessary if your friend doesn’t mind you opening their library.
Family Library Sharing may work with users who don’t live with you, but there may be a risk because Steam may not be able to provide support.
The computer must have a stable internet connection to play shared games. Steam enforces this feature to prevent two users from playing one game at the same time. If both people try to start the same game, something happens.
The library owner has priority access to the games. If an authorized person is still playing, they will get a message to stop or buy the game themselves. This rule applies to any game the owner has, even if he wants to play a different title.
Don’t panic if you suddenly can’t play a title. It is because the owner has access to his account at that time. You just have to wait for them to finish gaming.
Family Library Sharing Features and Alerts
While game sharing is excellent, there are other things to remember. It’s not all fun and games when you find something isn’t playable.
All content is fair game to the authorized people when sharing a library. In other words, it’s all or nothing when you decide to open the Library to friends and family. Steam does not allow you to selectively grant access to specific titles.
Owners who own the DLC will also share the DLC, but only if the authorized guest does not own the base game. For example, if you own The Sims 4 and the additional content, your friend won’t be able to access everything if he also has the base game.
Games that require a paid subscription cannot be shared. If a game also requires a third-party account or key to function, it will not be eligible for Family Library Sharing.
There are more reasons why you can’t share a game. For example:
- The game has free DLC.
- The game does not support the guest’s operating system.
- The owner is a Steamworks partner account and automatically has certain titles, which prevents them from being shared.
- The guest already has the game.
Some games are region specific. Even if you share a library with a friend in a restricted country, they still can’t access it without digitally changing their location. The best way to do this is with a VPN service.
While it’s not likely, it’s possible that someone you’ve shared a library with could be using your games to cheat or commit fraud. In this case, Steam has the right to ban VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) from your account and restrict sharing privileges. VAC banned games cannot be shared, even if your account is not fully restricted.
The main benefit of library sharing is that others can try something before buying it. You also let them play titles that you don’t play often. While Family Library Sharing isn’t perfect, many find it convenient and useful.
let me play
With Steam’s Family Library Sharing feature, you can let friends and family play games they don’t own. There are different conditions and limits, but the experience is overwhelmingly positive. Sharing is a way to let others try games too.
How many games do you have in your Steam library? How do you think Steam can improve the sharing feature? Let us know in the comments below.