Speculation is rife that an upcoming change in the way the Steam DRM client works will allow users to share their purchased games titles with friends. A recent Steam client beta has been dissected and peered into and it reveals references to a “shared game library” and alert strings informing users that games are in use by “borrowers”.
IGN gaming news reports that three lines of code in the latest beta of the Steam Client program refer to a “shared license”. Have a look below at the relevant revealing code snippets:
- "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."
Currently games available and purchased on Steam offer some serious user restrictions; there’s no way to sell, trade or lend your game like you would if you’d bought it through some other channels. However this inflexibility is offset by often much cheaper offers for games via Steam.
If this beta code is anything to go by Valve seems to have decided to tweak the user game library sharability to become a more competitive and attractive platform. Looking at the code excerpts above, it appears that friends will be able to use your games when you aren’t playing them. On the other side of the sharing equation a person wishing to borrow one of your games will be nudged to buy their own copy if it’s unavailable because you are playing it at that time.
Meanwhile we await an official announcement or comment on this subject from Valve.