How to share games with your family on Steam

Valve has updated and added some functionality to its Steam Family Sharing feature which is now simply dubbed Steam Family.

This feature allows one Steam account holder to share access to their library with up to five members of their family. These family members must be in the same household but this may change as the feature goes through a beta test.

Rather than simply sharing access to a game, Steam Family appears to give members of that family their own access to games.

“When you join a Steam Family, you automatically gain access to the shareable games that your family members own and they will also be able to access the shareable titles in your library. The next time you log in to Steam, this new ‘family library’ will appear in the left column as a subsection of your games list. You maintain ownership of your current titles and when you purchase a new game it will still show up in your collection. Best of all, when you are playing a game from your family library, you will create your own saved games, earn your own Steam achievements, have access to workshop files and more,” Valve wrote in a blog post.

Unfortunately if two members of a family want to play the same game at the same time, they will need to purchase another copy of the game.

How to start a Steam Family and share games

First things first, you’ll want to start a family. We can’t offer much advice in this regard but we suggest you’re ready for that lifelong commitment before diving in.

Once you have your family or alternatively a group of housemates, head to your Steam desktop client, head to Settings and then open the Interface tab. From here locate the Client Beta Participation option and enable Steam Families Beta. Your application will restart and we were prompted to download a 174MB patch as well.

Once your Steam client has restarted you can head to Settings, click Family and then Manage your Steam Family.

Here you can add Family members by either sending them a Friend Code or by inviting them from your Steam Friends list.

Your Steam library will be automatically shared with family members. Some games however, can’t be shared due to technical limitations, neither can games that require subscriptions or third-party keys or games that require individual accounts. As an example we can’t share Titanfall 2, New World or GTA V with our family.

Understandably, free games can’t be shared with your family.

Other noteworthy aspects of Steam Family worth acknowledging are rules around bans.

“If a family member gets banned for cheating while playing your copy of a game, you (the game owner) will also be banned in that game. Other family members are not impacted,” Valve reports.

While family members can be removed, there is a cooldown period of one year before somebody else can occupy that empty slot. The adults of the family can also see how often children are playing games while also approving or denying purchase requests.

As mentioned, this feature is currently being beta tested so expect some oddities and bugs along your journey.


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