One of the disadvantages of buying games digitally is that you can’t lend your games out to your friends for them to try out. Valve may be working on a solution for that, as some users have discovered some lines of code within the Steam client that suggests that a game sharing feature may be added to the service soon.
The lines of code mentioning the ability to “share” digital games with friends was first uncovered by NeoGAF user Grief.exe, and Kotaku’s Luke Plunkett later verified that existence of the code within his own Steam Client as well. Text prompts such as “”This shared game is currently unavailable. Please try again later or buy this game for your own library” and references to a “shared game library” seem to suggest that Valve is at least toying with the idea of letting users share games with each other.
As of right now, once you buy a game on Steam, it’s permanently tied to your account and you can’t trade it in once your done with it or let friends borrow it. Competing digital distribution companies, such as Good Old Games, have managed to carve out a profitable little niche for themselves by offering DRM free downloads.
Rumors have been circulating for the last few years that Valve has been working on a system that would allow Steam users to re-sell their digital downloads (though it’s worth noting that those rumors were started by analyst Michael Pachter, who, as we’ve established, is frequently wrong) and Valve hasn’t been shy about their intentions to make Steam into a friendlier, more flexible and “console-like” experience (hence the existence of Steam Big Picture and Steam Box) so adding the ability to share downloads in the same way that you would share physical products would certain fit into their MO. This is one rumor that I hope is true, and hopefully the companies behind similar download services like Origin, Xbox Live, and PSN also follow suit.