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Steam and the Inability to Play Multiple Games

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,181
369
126
So, the other day, I ran into a strange situation for me. Most of the time when it comes to PC gaming, it's just me using my own account. However, in this case, I had someone using my VR PC to play a game, and I wanted to play a different game in my living room. Well, I'm sure you know what happened there... Steam only allows you to play one game at a time from an account. When I attempted to start the other game, it gave me the option to boot the other person off or cancel my game launch. As someone that grew up in the era of shareware and game discs, this is... well, rather frustrating. How is it that we accept the fact that we can have hundreds if not thousands of games on Steam, and we cannot play more than one even in our own household? To my knowledge, the only way to handle this is to go into offline mode, but we shouldn't even have to do that.

There really should be a mechanism in place that allows me to play the game so long as that game isn't being played from my account. Whether that's through an Apple-like device authorization setup, or maybe just an honor system like Netflix does (i.e. hope people don't just share accounts).
 

nakedfrog

Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
49,046
2,075
126
Sadly, I think even with a shared family library, only one of you can be playing a game at once.
 

Stg-Flame

Platinum Member
Mar 10, 2007
2,623
180
106
Sandboxie.

I used to play Witcher 3 and Dungeon Defenders at the same time. I'd spend a few minutes setting up my afk defense to farm items and then swap back over to Witcher 3 for about twenty minutes. Rinse and repeat.
 

whm1974

Diamond Member
Jul 24, 2016
9,413
1,552
96
I thought you could set up a family account to allow for other household members to play Steam games While you are playing another one?
 

Stg-Flame

Platinum Member
Mar 10, 2007
2,623
180
106
Never looked into family accounts, but when I asked this very same question a few years ago, the general consensus said Sandboxie was the only way.
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
37,933
228
106
Accounts (outside of whatever the family account thing is) are meant to be for one person. The intended solution for you is for the other person to have their own steam account and copy of the other game.


For what it's worth, I do play multiple Steam games at the same time (swap from one to another).
 

JEDIYoda

Lifer
Jul 13, 2005
29,523
1,352
126
Accounts (outside of whatever the family account thing is) are meant to be for one person. The intended solution for you is for the other person to have their own steam account and copy of the other game.


For what it's worth, I do play multiple Steam games at the same time (swap from one to another).
That is not playing multiple games at the exact same time......you are technically playing only one game at a given time!!
 

BudAshes

Lifer
Jul 20, 2003
11,910
893
126
Accounts (outside of whatever the family account thing is) are meant to be for one person. The intended solution for you is for the other person to have their own steam account and copy of the other game.
Captain Obvious to the rescue!
 

SMOGZINN

Lifer
Jun 17, 2005
12,364
1,794
126
If you are not playing an online game you can play more than one game at a time by going into 'offline mode' with one of the PCs. We do it all the time at my house.
 

nakedfrog

Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
49,046
2,075
126
If you are not playing an online game you can play more than one game at a time by going into 'offline mode' with one of the PCs. We do it all the time at my house.
Well, that's good to know, I'll pass it along to the kid.
 

balloonshark

Diamond Member
Jun 5, 2008
4,054
562
126
Sandboxie was mentioned so I just thought I would let you know that it became free this year and they intend to make the code open source. I only use sandboxie for browsing, music players and pdf viewers though.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,181
369
126
I thought you could set up a family account to allow for other household members to play Steam games While you are playing another one?
To my knowledge, Family Sharing allows you to designate certain machines that are allowed to play games from your library when logged on via a different Steam account. I looked into setting this up recently, but I stopped when I saw that it had the same one-game restriction.

Accounts (outside of whatever the family account thing is) are meant to be for one person. The intended solution for you is for the other person to have their own steam account and copy of the other game.
I understand what it's for, but what I'm really trying to get at is that it's fairly anti-consumer to lock us out of what we rightly purchased simply because we want to use them at the same time. For example, if my mom comes over and wants to play Puyo Puyo Tetris and I want to play Beat Saber, the only way to do this is to run one of the Steam instances from offline mode.

My assumption is that they want to avoid Netflix-style account sharing, but I think this is too draconian. If we at least had an option for between 2-4 simultaneous executions, that would at least give us some more flexibility. Although, I guess it's better than the days when you could only log onto Steam at one location at a time. A few years back, I created a second Steam account just to use on my HTPCs so I could avoid constantly logging out my main account.

If you are not playing an online game you can play more than one game at a time by going into 'offline mode' with one of the PCs. We do it all the time at my house.
Yeah, I actually remember that as I was writing the original post. (I had forgotten all about offline mode until that point.) But I was seeing if we could get a bit of a discussion going, and maybe drum up some support for a more consumer-friendly solution. It will be truly legit when there's a petition on Change.org. :p
 

SMOGZINN

Lifer
Jun 17, 2005
12,364
1,794
126
Yeah, I actually remember that as I was writing the original post. (I had forgotten all about offline mode until that point.) But I was seeing if we could get a bit of a discussion going, and maybe drum up some support for a more consumer-friendly solution. It will be truly legit when there's a petition on Change.org. :p
I understand, and completely agree with you, but this was no oversite. This was an intentional decision by them. I am sure it is to limit the sharing of accounts. They are afraid of Steam accounts being shared in the same way that Netflix accounts are. I doubt much of anything will change their mind on this subject.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,181
369
126
I understand, and completely agree with you, but this was no oversite. This was an intentional decision by them. I am sure it is to limit the sharing of accounts. They are afraid of Steam accounts being shared in the same way that Netflix accounts are. I doubt much of anything will change their mind on this subject.
I think the bolded part (emphasis mine) represents the crux of the issue. Most people would likely point out how account sharing is a bit of a thorn in Netflix's side; however, I don't think that makes it a valid reason for Steam to consider limiting software execution. My reason for that lies in the different ownership models between the two services. On Netflix, it's simple... I don't own anything. I am paying Netflix for the right to view the content provided by them, for which they've paid the content holders to stream. In contrast, on Steam, I own each game in my library. Steam is supposed to be the facilitator of the software that I purchase, but they are in turn restricting me from using the software.

Honestly, I don't think they'll change unless they somehow get enough bad press for it. It's one of those situations where they'll gladly hurt a small minority to avoid a larger group "abusing" the service. (To be frank, letting someone else play a game you own is really not "abuse" so long as there's still only the one copy being played, hence the quotes.)
 

Craig234

Lifer
May 1, 2006
37,933
228
106
For example, if my mom comes over and wants to play Puyo Puyo Tetris and I want to play Beat Saber, the only way to do this is to run one of the Steam instances from offline mode.
Why couldn't she get a Steam account, buy the game, and play it?
 

[DHT]Osiris

Diamond Member
Dec 15, 2015
6,655
2,505
146
I think the bolded part (emphasis mine) represents the crux of the issue. Most people would likely point out how account sharing is a bit of a thorn in Netflix's side; however, I don't think that makes it a valid reason for Steam to consider limiting software execution. My reason for that lies in the different ownership models between the two services. On Netflix, it's simple... I don't own anything. I am paying Netflix for the right to view the content provided by them, for which they've paid the content holders to stream. In contrast, on Steam, I own each game in my library. Steam is supposed to be the facilitator of the software that I purchase, but they are in turn restricting me from using the software.

Honestly, I don't think they'll change unless they somehow get enough bad press for it. It's one of those situations where they'll gladly hurt a small minority to avoid a larger group "abusing" the service. (To be frank, letting someone else play a game you own is really not "abuse" so long as there's still only the one copy being played, hence the quotes.)
I think it'd be fair to permit some number, say 2-4 accounts, running games within one account, just not the same game for licensing reasons. Perhaps an 'enhanced' family mode, requiring proof that each person lives within the same household or something? I dunno.
 

Aikouka

Lifer
Nov 27, 2001
29,181
369
126
Why couldn't she get a Steam account, buy the game, and play it?
I mean... I think that would possibly be the logical conclusion if she enjoyed the game and wanted to play it on her own. However, if I already own the game, why should she have to buy it again to play it on my account on one of my computers? We're artificially limiting ourselves with this digital infrastructure, which is rather sad to see given that a physical console game doesn't suffer from these restrictions.

I think it'd be fair to permit some number, say 2-4 accounts, running games within one account, just not the same game for licensing reasons. Perhaps an 'enhanced' family mode, requiring proof that each person lives within the same household or something? I dunno.
If they still want to have some sort of control over it, I could see allowing something like... five simultaneous computers. These are machines that you have designated as your machine, and you can play as many games on those machines as you want (limited by your license, of course). However, as soon as you load up a game from your account on a non-designated machine, you're unable to load another game until closing that one. That also includes Family Share accounts that are linked to yours. (Albeit, maybe if that Family Share is being run from a computer that is designated as yours, it's fine.) A computer could only be designated to a single account at a time.

I mean... I still think it's too restrictive, but at least it's a lot better than what we have. I have four machines that are more than capable of playing games, and I could easily use what I've described.
 

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