Buy a game on a console disc and you’ll be able to lend it to your friend, buy it digitally, however, and the same does not hold true.
Steam is looking to change that as some code buried in the latest Steam client beta has revealed the presence of something called a “shared game library”. Here are the relevant parts:
“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.”
For three lines of code, that seems to present a pretty clear plan: you can let other Steam users “borrow” your games, then take them back whenever it suits.
As of now, when you buy a game from Steam, said game is tied to your account. You can’t lend it, you can’t trade it, gift it or sell it.
If this rings true, letting PC gamers share their games would be groundbreaking and a win for consumer rights as more and more content gets consumed digitally. But how exactly is Valve selling the upcoming feature is yet to be known.
Maybe it’s Microsoft’s similar feature for Xbox One that has caused the blow to be less of a thing for publishers? It’s looking like that’s exactly what happened here.