Steam Might Soon Let You Share Your Games With Your Friends

You can lend your friends a console disc. You can not lend them a game you buy on Steam. Or at least, you haven't been able to previously. That might soon be about to change.

Some code buried in the latest Steam client beta (pictured above), first spotted by NeoGAF poster Grief.exe but which I can also see in my directory, has revealed the presence of something called a "shared game library". Here are the relevant parts:

  • "SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicense_Title" "Shared game library"
  • "SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_OwnerText" "Just so you know, your games are currently in use by %borrower%. Playing now will send %borrower% a notice that it's time to quit."
  • "SteamUI_JoinDialog_SharedLicenseLocked_BorrowerText" "This shared game is currently unavailable. Please try again later or buy this game for your own library."

For three lines of code, that seems to present a pretty clear plan: you can let other Steam users "borrow" your games, then take them back whenever it suits.

As it stands, right now once you buy a Steam game that's it. It's yours, tied to your account, and you can't trade it in, sell it or lend it like you could a physical console game.

Letting PC gamers share their games, then, would be amazing, though how Valve is selling this to publishers I have no idea. Maybe every single full game can now be its own demo as well? Maybe Microsoft's ten-person "family sharing" plan for the Xbox One, which sounds a lot like this, is helping soften the blow for this kind of stuff?

Or maybe it'll just be an option for publishers that almost nobody chooses to make use of. Or something the company is looking at/thinking about, but may never actually implement. Sorry to end this on a downer, but hey, that's business for you.

We've contacted Valve for comment, and will update if we hear back.


    As long as there's no need for people to pay the full price...

    It'd be a good way to get people into games they're iffy about. Let them borrow it for the day and see if they like it

      Just like in real life.

      I don't know why more companies don't just model their services in the same way real, physical life works. Why not let me lend my games to my friends? It can't be too hard to program it, and I don't see how it will function any differently than it does when I lend my physical copy of a game to a friend.

    This would be pretty cool. I don't expect to be able to sell my Stem library, but it would be cool to share.

    That would be a really neat option. Say you borrow a game to someone for 1 - 3 days, after that, the access gets disabled automatically, and you would have to enable it again manually for that person to be able to play.
    That would allow people to test play a game for a day, see if they like it, if not, then there is nothing lost.

    i don't really use steam or my PC for that matter anymore due to the patchey internet coverage in my area. I'd be pleased to 'share' my games (read: give them away) to any takers. So many games in my steam library that I've never even been able to download, let alone play.

      Don't ask, don't get.

      Whatcha got?

        Oh nothing in my gift list, they are all in my library, so until this update goes through i can't do anything with them :(

          I was only kidding, I feel bad enough when my mum makes dinner for me. I ain't taking no man's games.

            But what if I felt guilty at having all these unplayed games? Wouldn't you be doing me a favour? :)

    Maybe a time limited thing? You can play a friend's game for 2 hours, then that's it.

    Would be an amazing way to bring back the game demo - devs wouldn't have to hack about to make something (one of the reasons demos don't really exist any more), and would kick the old 'try before you buy' lines you see on TPB (no judgement made. It's just an inevitable defence made when discussing game piracy).

      I think the demo is a great idea! I found it awesome when I was playing the demo of Gunpoint on Steam and this was the mission briefing


    I believe one thing the industry liked about steam was the inability to share games, since sharing could mean a loss in a sale but then again it could mean a sale if the player wants to buy it after.

    O wells who knows since there can't be evidence of either happening.

    Any case, I don't mind this at all, it'll be good to share a game with people who just can't afford it or want to try it out and to meet more people on steam =)

    There'll probably be a website for game sharing requests as well or a group at least.

    Mind: Blown. I'm pretty sure I could get a shitload of games sold if I could convince friends to try them. Ones without demos, anyway. I know the Orcs Must Die demo sold half a dozen copies because I harangued my friends to try it, then they enjoyed and bought. I wonder if I could do that with Far Cry 3, or Saints Row 3...

      I have been trying to get my friends to play Magicka with me for months now. Being able to share it with them so they don't have to buy it will mean they get to finally see how fucking fun it is in co-op.

        Unless you spring the 'fun' killing-them spells on them too early. c.c But otherwise, HELLYEAHMAGICKA.

    I've always wondered what the hell happened to the humble game demo.
    If this lets you permanently share licenses - eg 2 people can't play it at the same time, or if it lets you give it to a friend for a certain amount of time during which you can't play it, then this is BLOODY AWESOME.
    If it lets someone play it for a few hours or only the first level, then at least it's a good way to demo games which is still pretty awesome.

    They're probably doing this to troll M$ even harder.

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