Valve has announced a new Steam Family Sharing program for its digital distribution platform, allowing multiple Steam accounts access a library of games on an authorized computer.
The functionality is very similar to that initially proposed by Microsoft for Xbox One before the console's online features were largely stripped as part of the company's famous post-E3 'U-turn'.
The new feature will essentially let a user authorise another user’s hardware to download and borrow games from the first user’s account. The games are played with the current users own cloud-based achievements and save files.
Users won’t be able to play together using this method, if the original user tries to play a game in use by another, the borrower will receive a message to either purchase the game or quit. If they don’t decide either way after a period of time, they’ll receive the boot.
“Our customers have expressed a desire to share their digital games among friends and family members, just as current retail games, books, DVDs, and other physical media can be shared,” explained Valve’s Anna Sweet.
“Family Sharing was created in direct response to these user requests.”
Valve also stated that various technical limitations mean not all games on Steam will be participating.
"Due to technical limitations, some Steam games may be unavailable for sharing. For example, titles that require an additional third-party key, account, or subscription in order to play cannot be shared between accounts."
Steam Family Sharing enters beta next week, and will initially carry a cap of 10 authorized users per account. More info can be found here.