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Steam Family Options launches out of beta

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.

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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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  • reply
    January 9, 2014 6:15 AM

    Alice O'Connor posted a new article, Steam Family Options launches out of beta.

    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.

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      January 9, 2014 6:34 AM

      They also added a global 'download while playing' option - finally.

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      January 9, 2014 7:52 AM

      Last I heard, the sharing locks down the entire steam collection, so if my kids are playing Marvel Heroes, I can't be playing Borderlands 2. Has that changed?

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        January 9, 2014 8:20 AM

        This is family options (parental control), not family sharing. That is still in beta.

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          January 9, 2014 9:17 AM

          I was referring to the last paragraph of the story, which indeed was about Family Sharing.

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        January 9, 2014 9:32 AM

        That is incorrect. Whomever is the account owner always has priority. So if your library is being used by another, when you start, they have five minutes to stop or have the game terminated.

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          January 9, 2014 9:54 AM

          that's still pretty much shit

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            January 9, 2014 10:18 AM

            I don't know. Being able to play a family member's games is pretty neat. It's not supposed to be used so multiple people can game on a single account.

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              January 9, 2014 10:58 AM

              What's the business case for locking me out? If I can't let my kids play their games on the TV while I play mine on my computer, it would make more sense to by an xbox so the game machine isn't locked down while I'm using my computer. Since I can't move games between accounts, having a game account for each kid isn't practical either. Plus, my older child now is old enough to play Skyrim, which I do too, so there's overlap as well.

              Right now, I can deal with this by having the kids start their computer and disconnect the network adapter, so they can play their games without kicking contending with my session. But as things stand now, I'd never get a steam box for my living room, because it'd contend with my computer. I'd get an xbox instead.

              Unless family sharing + family controls works well for a family that can play separately or together. In that case, steam box wins.

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                January 9, 2014 11:04 AM

                The Family Sharing is to allow members of your family access to your game share without having to have you logged in, when you're not playing.

                That's it. That's the usage case for it. You may not agree with it, but I've found it quite useful here since I do not game all that often, but own a large number of games. It's nice to share those out.

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                January 9, 2014 11:11 AM

                You can just go offline in steam without disconnecting your network.

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                January 9, 2014 11:51 AM

                Why wouldn't you get them their own steam account instead of an xbox? That is the accurate comparison. You are deluded into thinking this means you suddenly get simultaneous access to the same game. No service gives you that ability as a feature.

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                  January 9, 2014 1:30 PM

                  Read my comments again. I'm not trying to play the same game on two machines at the same time. I'm trying to share my library across machines in my house but no two machines are using the same game at the same time (nor would I expect that to be allowed).

                  As I said above, the problem with getting different accounts is that I can't transfer the games to the other account. So while I'm done playing Skyrim, and my kid wants to play, I can't transfer that to another account (nor do I want to--I might later get some more DLC, etc.).

                  All I'm asking for is to have 2 machines in the same household be able to access the same library (but not the same game at the same time). And the feature is still in beta, so that might be the eventual goal--I was just asking if anyone knew if it had changed.

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                    January 9, 2014 1:37 PM

                    [deleted]

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                      January 9, 2014 1:40 PM

                      This is correct. They will never allow two games from the same library to be played on two different machines. The reason for this is obvious. Sorry emarkp, that will not be in the cards.

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                    January 9, 2014 1:41 PM

                    Ahh okay. I misunderstood, my bad. Yeah, console does that.

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                    January 9, 2014 1:51 PM

                    Wait, so you basically want to give your "ownership" of one game to another account but still want ownership of it?

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                      January 9, 2014 2:29 PM

                      No, I think he means lending, like you would with physical discs.

                      He sits there, playing his game, and his kids can play a different game of his at the same time. It's akin to lending a physical disc, only in this instance it's digital.

                      I think that's an entirely reasonable request and usage.

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                        January 10, 2014 8:12 AM

                        That's about right. Also, I'd be satisfied if this were tightly restricted, aka every computer must be on the same LAN. A naive solution would allow this from the steam servers if there was the same IP address (which one could game using VPNs or other tricks, but those are technically more complex than simply outright pirating the games), but you could add LAN peer verification, with required low ping/latency etc.

                        Valve is full of smart people, I'm sure they could make it work. My question was simply what the status of the beta was, since it was mentioned in the post.

                        I stumbled across the Family Options in the last week, and immediately set it up on the kids computer. I don't want them playing Killing Floor or Amnesia, etc. But they've been enjoying Psychonauts and Marvel superheroes like crazy.

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        January 9, 2014 11:15 AM

        [deleted]

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      January 9, 2014 10:39 AM

      I always start reading the stuff below the "<writer> poster a new article, <link>" in Shacknews posts and it always annoys me because it's just the sentence I read at the top!

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