Sorry Steam but the natural unit of a game played is the household. Now we have always bought two copies of games we both wanted to play a lot, or play online. (we have 2 copies of all Half Life games, Portal, Portal 2, Dungeon Keeper, Kohan, Din's Curse, Defense Grid etc. etc.) but there are many games which we might just dabble in and it should be possible to NOT have to buy two copies...I love this quote as there are so many truths to it in just 2 sentences.
Unfortunately, Steam, and many companies like them, still seem to believe that the only gamers in a household are the 12-25 year old males. Couple that with only 2.4 kids/household (in the US) and that makes 1 or less in that market per household on average. And we ALL know that the US is representative of the world market, right?
It is incredibly short sighted and what is annoying is that Steam is announcing that it is looking into trade-ins (another teen focused feature) before it is looking into couple/household sharing or the issues people with large number of games face.
The average gamer age is above 25 (that is the average!) and the gender balance is about 45/55 many places. It is not uncommon to see couples in their 20s or 30s where both play games, and families with 2 or 3 generations of gamers...
The focus on teens is not uncommon in the US since they have high disposable income, and it might work for the movie theatre industry because teens need to hang out the way other ages don't. I think it hurts the games industry - and it is sad that so many games websites (and steam) focus on an adolescent image of gaming
Let's look into "perfect steam":
- allows me to designate people as "in my household" so they can play my games but under their user name (for achievements and chat while they play)
- totally happy to have to jump through some hoops for this, at the point of account "tie-in" and approving computers who can be used
- also ok to have some sort of limit above which one must explain via support that indeed one has an 8 people household..
- games have to be installed while logged in on owner's account, but can then be played by a tied-in user
- doesnt allow the same game to be played in multiple locations at the same time unless we have two licenses for the game. but instead of disconnecting the person already playing, it might prompt the person trying to play that they might want to buy another license
- can give a person guest access to games on a designated registered computer
- allows for children accounts with some form of parental safety
This would then mean you can have a game shared in a household the way a physical/console game might be, without losing the advantage of the steam social graph.
And on another note, further features of "perfect steam":
- allows installing on multiple partition
- tells us where the saved games/user settings are on each game so we can back them up (or, better yet, comes with a built in backup option for the saved games and configs. the normal backup does not back these up, just the game files)
- allows us to show/mark which games we already own. I don't mean that we then can download them in Steam, but just that our friends know we have them and don't gift them again to us...