Steam Family Options launches out of beta

By Alice O'Connor, Jan 09, 2014 6:15am PST

As Valve winds up for the first wave of Steam Machines to hit living rooms this month, it's making sure the software is in shape too. One important feature for a more console-y system is a way to parents to keep innocent young eyes away from horrid adult content, so they can play Peggle but not, say, Saw. No child should suffer that.

After a spot of public testing, Valve this week brought Steam's Family Options into the main client for all and sundry to enjoy, without any need for fiddly opting into beta builds.

Steam Family Options lets account holders lock down their account, with options to disable features like access to the Steam Store, Friends and chat. They can also choose which games will appear in the Steam library, hiding away anything unpleasant, or just making it easier for young'uns to find their favourite games.

When enabled, Steam will by default launch in Family mode, requiring a PIN to access the rest.

"We understand every family has its own approach to establishing rules and setting limits when it comes to media, entertainment, and games," Valve said in the announcement. "We hope most families talk through these issues together and find ways to agree on what's realistic and fair."

One keenly-anticipated feature still due to launch as part of Steam's family features--and SteamOS--is Family Sharing, which will let trusted people 'borrow' games from a chum's library. The lender will always be able to play their game, though, and if they play it while a borrower is too, the borrower will be given a few minutes to either stop or buy it themselves. This feature's currently in invitation-only beta.

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