Utilizing Steam Family Sharing: A Comprehensive Guide

Steam has experienced significant evolution since its inception. What started as a basic digital store has transformed into the largest community of PC gamers globally, with millions of individuals worldwide logging in to play. As Steam operates as a digital-only platform where games are linked to a single account, it faced a challenge when multiple family members wished to have their own accounts. Concerns arose regarding parental controls, game sharing, and other aspects. However, Valve has been diligently working on a solution. The Steam Families feature, currently in the Steam Beta phase, presents diverse options and functionalities that every household should explore. Let’s delve into its functionality and capabilities.

Initiating a Steam Family

Procedure to participate in the Steam beta.

By opting into the Steam Beta Client, users can create a Steam Family accommodating up to five members, each designated as either Adult or Child accounts. Following setup, families can be managed and viewed directly on Steam, via a web browser, or using the mobile app. Accessing the Steam beta can be done by launching Steam, selecting the Steam button, and navigating to Settings. Subsequently, go to Interface and opt for Steam Families Beta under Client Beta Participation.

It is important to note that while individuals can exit and join new Steam Families, a full year must elapse before joining a different one is possible.

Possibilities with a Steam Family

A collection of games in a Steam family library.

Steam Families incorporate several features that streamline game sharing between accounts and enhance parental controls for Child accounts.

Sharing within Family

The principal allure lies in Family Sharing, allowing any member of a Steam Family to access the shared collection of games within the family. Essentially, all individual libraries are merged into the new Family Library section in the games list. Nonetheless, games you purchase will always belong to you and will be accessible through your personal library even if you depart from a family.

If you engage with a game from the family library that you did not buy, it functions identically to a game you own, retaining your personal save data, achievements, workshop content, and more.

Although you can play a game from another member’s library when they are online and playing another title, concurrent play of the same game is not feasible. For simultaneous play, separate purchases are necessary.

It is worth noting that not all games on Steam currently support Family Sharing. Refer to the complete list of games that do support this feature.

Supervisory Controls

Supervisory controls in Steam.

Another significant enhancement with Steam Families is the introduction of comprehensive parental controls. An Adult member within a family can adjust the following settings for a Child member:

  • Grant access to appropriate games
  • Limit access to the Steam Store, Community, or Friends Chat
  • Establish playtime restrictions (hourly/daily)
  • Monitor playtime statistics
  • Accept or reject requests from child accounts for additional playtime or feature access (temporary or permanent)
  • Recover a child’s account in case of a forgotten password

A standout feature of Steam Families is the purchase request option for child accounts. Instead of the adult having to independently purchase any desired game for the child, they can now send purchase requests. If a child wishes to acquire a game, they can request it through an adult account. The game will only be added to the child’s account and family library if the adult account approves and completes the purchase.

Evan Brooks

Evan is a seasoned reporter with an insatiable curiosity for the latest gadgets and breakthroughs in science and tech.

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