In Steam, what options are there for installing the same game for simultaneous use, across several computers?

Ease of management is the bigger concern, over game licensing costs. This is a non-commercial environment (an after hours LAN party at the office), so would prefer not paying a lot for internet cafe management software.

  • 2
    If it is free games, then just use an account pr computer to download the software, and let people use that or log in with their own account if they already have a history with the game to play. May 3, 2016 at 8:52

2 Answers 2


On Steam, there are no multi-seat licensing. Although Valve does do this for cybercafes and education institutions, it is essentially the creation of multiple accounts (one account per computer) with licenses applied manually by Valve that are simply logged in automatically when the computer starts, which is the same as multiple single-user accounts.

To simply put, in order to achieve what you're talking about, simply do this:

  1. Create a steam account for each person (or workstation) you would like to play.
  2. Purchase the game that you would like to play for every single account.
  3. At each workstation, log into a different Steam account that you have created for this reason.

As for maintaining updates, there are many solutions for that. What I typically do is have the files sync from a central computer/server. For BYO computers, I put them in a network share and ask everyone to copy from there (as opposed to having everyone download altogether*).

Steam is supposed to be a single-user based licensing system. Alternatively, if you want each user to BYO their own Steam account, you can simply purchase licenses to 'gift' that can be activated on their own account.

*Not a good idea, unless you have super-fast internet, and I mean several GB per second (cumulative).

  • Are there more details on cafe.steampowered.com? It's a bit unclear what's available with it
    – Oleg
    May 3, 2016 at 3:53
  • @o.v. Those accounts only have licenses for Valve games and selected other games (as per publishing/partnership deals).
    – aytimothy
    May 3, 2016 at 4:10

The easiest solution I've seen to this is maintaining network share of steam game backups. Only once device needs to download the whole of each game via the Internet. Each person/computer then has their own credentials, but installs happen using the "restore from backup" option at LAN speeds, instead of having 20 users all trying to download the same game at once over a congested Internet connection.

It takes a bit of upfront work to maintain the backups, but does make the process quite painless once you've got all the accounts created and all the players well drilled in the process.

I did email Gabe a long while back asking for a "LAN party mirroring mode" feature that could have worked seamlessly via mDNS on the local LAN segment. Never heard anything back unfortunately.

  • 2
    I find that manually copying games (presuming they're up-to-date) is more efficient than making backups through Steam's backup feature. Also, remember that you can't play a game you don't own, even if it is installed. (Note: Some games allow you to launch without Steam, but those that don't will automatically open Steam and ask you to buy it or launch through there)
    – aytimothy
    May 3, 2016 at 8:52
  • 1
    backup/restore is quite slow. May 3, 2016 at 8:53
  • backup/restore is faster than 20 people downloading it simultaneously over a contended link provided your fileserver is up to the task.
    – Flexo
    May 3, 2016 at 17:02
  • @Flexo But you still have to download the backup files first from [whoever did the backup process].
    – aytimothy
    May 4, 2016 at 2:44
  • You can run them directly off a network share
    – Flexo
    May 4, 2016 at 7:13

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