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How to share your Steam gaming library with friends and family

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Valves new family sharing features allow up to five accounts to access a single persons library. Heres what you need to know to set it up.

Valve offers thousands of new and old games from hundreds of big name and independent publishers in one convenient place, its Steam digital distribution platform. The company frequently haspromotions and sales that offer up hit gamesfor cheaper than anywhere else on the Web. Its because of these sales that people like me have built vast gaming libraries with hundreds of titles.

Thanks to Valves new sharing features, whichthe company unveiled last September, you can now share these games with friends and family members.

Before you can enable Family Library Sharing, you must first have the Steam Guard security feature enabled. This can be done by opening the Steam settings menu, clicking on the Account tab, and selecting the Manage my account with Steam Guard security option.

To enable the sharing feature, you must first log in to your family member or friends computer with your Steam account. Next, open the settings menu, click on the Family tab, and choose to authorize the computer. You will then have the option to authorize any accounts that have also logged into the same computer.

Once this is complete, log out of your account and let your friend or family member log back into theirs. They will then have the ability to download and install select games from your gaming library.

You can authorize up to 10 computers and up to five accounts to access your Steam gaming library.

While its possible to do, the main purpose of the Family Library Sharing feature is not to share your library with a friend who lives across the country. Its aimed at parents who want to share their own personal Steam library with their kids.

One of the benefits of using Family Library Sharing is having the ability for both you and your kids (or siblings) to play a game without interfering with the others progress, saves, and achievements. It can also be used to test a game you are interested in (and that a friend owns, of course) to see if its worth your hard-earned cash.

As I mentioned above, there are some limitations. Only five accounts can access your gaming library from up to 10 different computers. You must also have an Internet connection to access shared libraries, which are shared in their entirety. Because of what Valve calls technical limitations and licensing agreements, not all games are available for sharing, such as those that require a subscription.

A shared game can only be accessed by one person at a time, which means you still wont be able to play any games together. The account holder will have priority access to his or her games. If you decide to start playing while another user is already in one of your games, they will be given the option to buy the game or end their session.

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A Quick Guide to Getting Free Games on Steam

A Quick Guide to Getting Free Games on Steam

A Quick Guide to Getting Free Games on Steam

If you want to play games on Steam but dont necessarily want to pay for them, dont worry, there are a number of perfectly legal ways to get free games, although the options might not be the exact games you were hoping for. If youre trying to figure out how to get top games like Batman: Arkham Asylum for free look elsewhere, this is about getting legal freebies. Sound cool anyway? Lets get started.

Before we get started explaining how to get free Steam games, lets talk about what Steam games are. A Steam game is quite literally any game that has been registered with your Steam client. You could get the code off of a box or from a digital game, or purchase the game on Steam and add it in to register it, and from then on, it is a Steam game. So essentially, a Steam game is any compatible game with a game code. While you can only play this game on Steam after you have registered it with Steam, registering it with your Steam allows you to play your game on any computer, so long as you log into your account. So while you are restricting yourself to Steam only use, you also make it easy to download and play the game wherever, whenever, so long as youre signed in. Steam accounts limit the number of computers used at one time to one. A.K.A. no lending your account to friends so they can play your games with you.

Now that you know that you can find free games to play on Steam from pretty much anywhere, lets talk about some of the best places to find them. There are a number of great places that offer free digital games, although freebies are typically free for a reason. Sometimes you can also get special offer games for free.

Steam Steam actually has an entire section dedicated to free games, although for the most part, their quality is a little lower than paid games. If you just want something to try out, consider browsing through the available database and choosing something that looks interesting. Many games have reviews so you can look at those too before you choose. A short list of our favorite free Steam games include:

Importantly, except for Rusty Hearts, Dungeons & Dragons Online, PlanetSide 2, Rift, and LOTR online, the majority of these are 3 star games, but still pretty decent for being free.

Green Man Gaming sometimes offers free games as part of a promotional pack or deal. In this case you may have to buy another game, or you may have to wait while the server loads. In either case, you can expect that free games are not always available on this site. However, in 2013 some of the free deals they offered included Borderlands 1 & 2 for free, both of which are pretty decent games. Green Man Gaming also has a few pretty decent sales, like 90% off on select games. Once again, availability varies.

GOG is another store that sometimes offers free games, and sometimes offers really good deals. For example, GOG offered Fallout 1, 2, & 3 for free in late 2013. While they dont always offer freebies, they have a great game bundle nearly every month, usually with 5-60 games for more than 90% off.

Amazon has a selection of great games available for free, but like the other options on this list, also have great sales on top games. Amazon has an entire section full of free to play games, although many of them match up with games on Steam. Some of their free titles that Steam doesnt have include Eve Online, Smite, RuneScape 3, Need for Speed World, Guns and Robots, and many more. You can also check Amazons Gold Box deals to check for really great deals.

Did you know that you can sometimes get games for such a huge discount that they might as well be free? Green Man Gaming, Amazon, and GOG each offer these types of deals, but so does Humble Bundle, although the majority of their games are Indie titles. However, you can pay as little as 1 cent for a pack of 4-10 Steam games, which is virtually free.

There are a couple of websites out there like m that you should avoid. These websites will not give you free Steam games, theyre just click aggregators. The majority of these types of website are simply a waste of time, while others are actually dangerous because they will ask for your credit card information or download a virus. Some might also ask you to fill out a special offer before claiming your free game, which eventually requires you to spend money.

Have any favorite spots to pick up free Steam games? Let us know in the comments.

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