Steam Families Update: Save Your Marriage, Your Games Depend On It

Steam Families Update: Save Your Marriage, Your Games Depend On It

Valve has launched Steam Families, an updated collection of features that allow players to create a family group to share and play games. Launched today in the Steam Beta Client, Steam Families will replace the current Steam Family Sharing and Steam Family View to offer a more streamlined approach to library sharing and parental restrictions. Just don’t expect to be able to jump ship to another family right away though, thanks to an interesting ‘cooldown’ period on changing family groups.

Steam Families removes previous limits on how many people can play games from a single library at once. It also revamps buying games for kids and adds additional parental controls on child accounts – such as playtime limits, restricted store or community access, and game restrictions. Previously, you would need to use both Family Sharing and Family View to access similar features, whereas Families distils this all into one program with expanded options.

Perhaps one of the more interesting intricacies of Steam Families, though, is how adding and removing family members works – I’m referring to it as an anti-rebound feature. To elaborate: You can create a Steam Family and add up to five members (or join a pre-existing one). However, if you leave, you’ll have to wait a year before you can create or join a new group. The same can be said for the original family group, who have a one year cooldown for that ‘slot’ before they can add someone new. Basically, if you’re considering divorce, you won’t be able to link up with your cheeky rebound a month later on Steam Families and share a different set of games. RIP.

Library Sharing And Parental Controls

While I’m perhaps hyperfixating on the oddity of a family cooldown timer, there’s a lot more to Steam Families than the finicky details. With game sharing, you’ll be able to create your own saved games, earn achievements, have access to workshop files and shareable DLC that they own. The one downside is that if a member of your family gets banned for cheating while playing your copy of a game, you might also cop a ban. 

One of the key differences between this and the older system is that previously, if one person was playing a game in their library, you wouldn’t be able to play a different game from that same library. This has now been done away with in Steam Families, making things much simpler. Valve notes that some developers might opt their games out of Family Sharing for “technical or other reasons.” The list of games that currently support Family Sharing is still pretty lengthy, and includes titles like Helldivers 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, Cyberpunk 2077, and Palworld, to name a few.

The Steam Families parental controls have also been expanded, with each account designated either as an ‘adult’ or ‘child’ account. The parent control features will let adults:

  • Allow access to appropriate games
  • Restrict access to the Steam Store, Community or Friends Chat
  • Set playtime limits (hourly/daily)
  • View playtime reports
  • Approve or deny requests from child accounts for additional playtime or feature access (temporary or permanent)
  • Recover a child’s account if they lost their password

Purchasing games for kids will also be a hell of a lot easier – previously, this would involve either completing a gift purchase or allowing children to borrow a credit card. Now, Steam Families introduces a new payment option where a child account can make a request for an adult in the family group to pay for the cart. The adult can then approve and pay for the purchase, or decline it.

In order to test the new Steam Families feature, you’ll have to opt into the beta – and so will any family members you invite. If you’re keen to try it out, you’ll need to launch Steam, click on Steam in the upper left, and choose the “Settings” menu. From there, select Interface, then under “Client Beta Participation,” select the dropdown menu. After this, you’ll just need to pick Steam Family Beta from the dropdown list and click okay, before restarting the program to finalise the process.

Whether you’re a nuclear family or just five mates in a sharehouse who want to play each other’s games, Steam Families might just be the option for you – so long as you don’t have any major dynamic shakeups too often, that is.

Image: Valve / Steam

The Cheapest NBN 1000 Plans

Looking to bump up your internet connection and save a few bucks? Here are the cheapest plans available.

At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW – prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.


3 responses to “Steam Families Update: Save Your Marriage, Your Games Depend On It”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *