This is interesting: super-geeky types have scoured the code for the latest version of the Steam client beta, and have discovered three lines that appear to indicate you might in future be able to share your Steam games with friends.
Each line of code makes allowances for the following scenarios: the creation of a “Shared Game Library “ in a Steam user’s account; a UI notification that a Steam user’s game is currently being played by friend X and if you launch it then friend X will be notified that they need to quit; and another UI notification (presumably to friend X who is trying to borrow a game) that says a shared game is not available at present so try again later or buy it yourself, you cheapskate.
There’s no promise that this apparent feature to share Steam games will ever see the light of day. As Kotaku points out: not sure how Valve will be able to convince all publishers that sharing PC games is a good idea. Then again, this might just be a feature that publishers have the option of using if they so wish.
For interest’s sake, here are the three lines as they appear in the current beta code:
“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.”
The ability to share games between friends has become a hot topic of late thanks to Microsoft’s new DRM plans for the Xbox One. This is something Sony has capitalised on for the PlayStation 4 by implementing zero restrictions on sharing PS4 games. If the PC’s largest digital distribution platform follows suite and allows officially sanctioned sharing of game titles, it’s going to make Microsoft look even more backwards with their limit of ten shares per game. Interesting times ahead!