Steam users usually own huge game libraries. Until recently, these were tied exclusively to the user: today the situation has changed, as the account-sharing function allows players to share their titles with others.
Once a person is authorized, they can play most of the games that you have purchased and that are in your collection. While sharing games with friends and family may seem like a simple and beneficial solution, there are some conditions and limitations that need to be considered. Let's find out more!
How to share the Steam library
The Family Sharing feature of the library allows a user to authorize up to 10 devices at any one time for access to the games on the account. Here's how to enable sharing:
- Log into your Steam account from your computer;
- Go to the Settings menu ;
- Click on Account and check if Steam Guard is enabled (if not, verify your email address with Steam);
- Go to the Family tab ;
- Select the Authorize library sharing on this computer button ;
- In the list below the sharing option, check the boxes for the accounts you want to share the titles with.
After following these steps and saving your settings, other Steam users can access your Library and play the games you own.
You can also request access to get another person's library. To do so, enable Steam Guard on your account (if another person uses the same computer to play, you can see the games from their Steam account in your Library).
So click on that game and select Request Access to proceed. The owner must then open their email to click or tap the authorization link.
You should now have access to the title. You can also choose to buy the game, but it's not necessary if your friend doesn't mind accessing their Library.
Family Library Sharing may work with users who don't live with you, but Steam makes no assurance that this method will work in such contexts.
Your computer must have a stable Internet connection to play shared games. However, the platform in question tries to discourage this practice, also to avoid overloading the servers.
The owner of the Library always has priority access to the games. If an authorized person is still playing, he will receive a message to go out or buy the title himself.
So don't panic if you suddenly can't play a video game: this happens because the owner is already playing it. You just have to wait for it to finish and then you can freely access it.
Library sharing features and caveats
While game sharing is excellent, there are several features and caveats that you shouldn't ignore.
Not all content is freely accessible to a guest. For example, anyone who accesses a library other than their own cannot get the other account's DLCs. For example, if you own The Sims 4 and add-on content, your friend will not be able to get the DLC.
Games that require paid memberships are not shareable. If a game also requires a third-party account or key to play, it is not eligible for sharing in the Steam library.
There are other reasons why you will find that a game is not shareable. For instance:
- the game does not support the guest's operating system ;
- the owner is a Steamworks partner account and has titles that are not accessible to joint accounts;
- the guest already has the game (also because it wouldn't make sense);
Some games are limited to certain territories. Even if you share a Library with a friend in a restricted country, they still can't access it without changing their location (the best way to do this is with a VPN service ).
While it's not that likely, it's possible that someone you've shared a Library with may use your games to cheat and use cheats and similar systems. In this case, Steam uses the VAC (Valve Anti-Cheat) system and may ban your account or restrict access to certain titles. VAC-banned games are no longer shareable, although your account should not suffer further restrictions.
The main benefit of sharing your library is to allow others to try something out before buying it. And if you have a game that you don't play often, it can still be useful to let a friend or family member try it out.
Ready to play?
With the Steam Library Sharing feature, you can allow friends and family to try games they don't own. There are several conditions and limits, but the experience is still positive.
For a younger sibling, for example, it can be a great way to take advantage of the larger game list. In this sense, you just need to deal with trusted people, you can also share games with your friends.