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Like most people on Steam I have stockpiled a large library of games over the years. I recently found out that there is a Steam Family Sharing feature, which seems a great way of letting others make use of my games.

Specifically, I have a family member in the same household with their own PC and another family member in another city with their own PC. I would like to share my games without limiting my own use of my games.

  • Do I need to login/maintain an account on these other machines?

  • If someone is playing a shared game do I get locked out of my game library until they are done?

  • If they do something stupid like obtain a VAC ban am I subject to the same punishment?

  • Are there any (other?) disadvantages to myself if I share my games?

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    This isn't an answer but I find it so fascinating that I have to mention it whenever I get a chance: 80% of steam users own less than 4 games. Source: medium.com/steam-spy/… – Dallium Oct 21 '15 at 14:10
  • If you consider that someone who you're sharing with your library can get better than you, in your favorite game... then yes. If not, then no. :) "damm those filthy casuals..." – Hugo Rocha Oct 21 '15 at 20:37
  • @Dallium how fascinating? There are like a few games I like to play that I can "only" get on steam, so I have an account for these. Which makes 2-3 games total… – Pierre Arlaud Oct 22 '15 at 7:34
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    @PierreArlaud because I have over 250 games on steam, and so does everyone I know who has steam. Which just goes to show, anecdotal evidence is worthless. – Dallium Oct 23 '15 at 3:14
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Do I need to login/maintain an account on these other machines?

No, just once to activate Steam Guard on their machine


If someone is playing a shared game do I get locked out of my game library until they are done?

No, they will be kicked out of their game to allow you to play. Per Steam Family Sharing FAQ:

When I authorize a device to lend my library to others, do I limit my own ability to access and play my games?

As the account holder, you may always access and play your games at any time. If you decide to start playing when another user is already playing one of your games, he/she will be given a few minutes to either purchase the game or quit playing.

Clarifying for @WernerCD - any game activated on Steam will kick the person with whom the library is shared.


If they do something stupid like obtain a VAC ban am I subject to the same punishment?

Yes, your account might get banned for any cheating/fraud conducted by the one you share your library to. Per Steam Family Sharing FAQ:

Will I be punished for any cheating or fraud conducted by other users while playing my games?

Your Family Library Sharing privileges may be revoked and your account may also be VAC banned if your library is used by others to conduct cheating or fraud. Additionally, VAC-banned games cannot be shared. We recommend you only authorize familiar computers you know to be secure. And as always, never give your password to anyone.


Are there any (other?) disadvantages to myself if I share my games?

Not really, only disadvantages are on the other side (limited availability when the library owner is playing, no offline mode to play shared games, no trading cards gathering, etc.)


Steam Family Sharing FAQ can be found here.

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    Actually the note on achievements is not true, the receiving party still gains achievements in games it does not own. This is confirmed by my personal experience. – Sergii Zaskaleta Oct 21 '15 at 10:48
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    You can receive achievements anyway, yes, like SergiiZaskaleta mentioned. – h0ch5tr4355 Oct 21 '15 at 10:51
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    @CamelCase You can also use Team Viewer or other remote desktop to access someone's machine and log in, unlock a machine's Steam Guard and allow Family Sharing without giving the credentials/e-mail access to your friend/family member. – Asunez Oct 21 '15 at 13:00
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    Clarifying question: When "Family Member" is online and playing... Do they get kicked off of game (after warning) when 1) I simply log into steam? 2) When I start playing ANY game - even if it's a different game? or 3) when I start playing THE SAME game that they are currently playing? The wording seems ambiguous to me. – WernerCD Oct 21 '15 at 17:00
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    @WernerCD Option number two – Asunez Oct 21 '15 at 17:52
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Asunez already posted a great answer to this question so I'll just add a few things.

You will need to log in each of the machines your relatives play on. If your relative owns multiple computers, you will have to log in on each computer your relative wants to play your games on. If you authorize only 1 computer, your relative will be able to play on that device but not any others.

You are never locked out of your own games.

Even if you play a free-to-play game from your steam library, other's will not be able to play any game from your library.

If the game also has it's own launcher that doesn't need Steam I think others can make use of your library while you are playing, but this needs confirmation.

You can not play multiplayer with your relative if you own the game, share it but your relative does not own the game.

Someone who plays a game shared by someone else will be able to earn achievements but will not earn Steam trading cards (unless they own the game themselves, of course).

I haven't encountered any disadvantages other than having to log-in and authorizing my relatives computer.

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