Steam sneaks in some revamped family features amidst the busy Spring Sale

A closer look at the new and improved Steam Families feature
Updated: Mar 19, 2024 12:20 pm

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If you’ve been busy getting distracted by the Steam Spring Sale, you’re probably not alone. During the event, you may have missed that they’ve introduced some pretty big changes to how Steam Family Sharing and Steam Family View work, now combining the two and making some improvements under the new ‘Steam Families’ title.
This revamped look at how parent and child Steam accounts interact looks to make things much simpler, with some key improvements that in turn help streamline the process. There are new rules in place and a much neater user interface to give you a detailed view (and greater control) of your child’s account.
New Steam Families feature announced
This is a combination of what you may know from the existing Steam Family Sharing and Steam Family View features, which helped family members share games and set rules or parental restrictions on a child’s Steam account. It is currently available in the Steam Beta Client, with no word on exactly when it will be available in the latest stable version.
If you wish for a more detailed look, Steam outline all of the changes in this blog post.
A Steam Family can consist of up to five additional members which can be managed via the Steam Client, web browser, or your mobile device. As you can see from the image below, one change is the introduction of a new Steam Family library.
The new shared Steam library, source: Steam/Valve
What are the biggest improvements?
Once you join a Steam Family, you automatically gain access to shareable games from the Steam Family library, which eliminates the previously cumbersome process of sharing games on Steam. And while this feature is indeed intended for households, we don’t see any reason why you couldn’t create a family with a group of friends and benefit from shared games. Do note though that this sharing feature is something that developers may opt out of.
Perhaps one of the best changes we have spotted is that family members can now play one of the shared games while another family member is online and in-game. This was one of the most annoying restrictions of the previous model, though you still need to have two separate copies if you want to play the same game at the same time. This better reflects the fact that many households no longer rely on a single shared family PC, especially with the introduction of handheld devices like the Steam Deck.
Other improvements include new parental controls, which give adults the chance to allow/restrict access to games and other Steam features, set playtime limits, and even recover lost passwords. Another neat feature is the ‘Child Purchase Request’, a streamlined wishlist of sorts.
You can now get a detailed look at your child’s playtime, source: Steam/Valve

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