Tech

Multiplayer family wishes for a better gaming plan


Have a lot of love digital games, like being able to shop and download games instantly from my couch. I didn’t miss hunting for discs or the annoying creaking as they spin in the drive. But digital game sharing is a mess. It’s confusing and doesn’t have to be complicated.

It’s not unusual to see my whole family playing video games. The four of us are lucky enough to have a large Steam library, an Ultimate Game Pass subscription, and a bunch of PlayStation games. But achieving collective gaming pleasure requires careful negotiation, as asking for a console or game service can lock everyone else out. All the major gaming platforms lack simple home gaming plans.

Simultaneous

Take my Steam library for example. I spent years building a formidable PC game collection On steam. I had imagined the whole family would be able to enjoy those titles, but it turns out you’re limited to one player at a time.

Although this is also a problem with physical discs, I don’t mind because I have to buy two copies if my wife and I want play Rimworld at the same time. That’s how disks work. But it seems ridiculous that we can’t play two distinctive games from my digital library at once. I can circumvent this to some extent by starting the game on one machine, cutting off the Internet connection (provided the machine has offline mode), then logging into Steam on another computer, but this is a loophole and technical violation. .

To add insult to injury, Steam teases the Family Sharing feature. Theoretically, it allows you to share your game collection with family members using separate Steam accounts. So can you share a library and play simultaneously? According to its FAQ, no: “A shared library can only be played by one user at a time, including the owner and even if they want to play different games.” That means what?

Console confusion

It’s not just a game on Steam and PC. Game subscription service on the console is even more confusing. Good luck if you’re a non-gaming parent. Trying to figure out what you really need for your kids to be able to play games in a multi-console family is almost impossible.

I managed to buy a PS5, freeing up our PS4 for what we hope will be concurrent gaming. My PS Plus subscription creates separate profiles for each family member, but we’ve found that playing on one console causes friction for people on the other. As it turns out, you can play PS5 games on PS5 and PS4 games on PS4 at the same time, but not PS4 games on both. There’s a workaround, of course: You need to set both consoles as primary, install the game you want, and then create and sign in to a second PlayStation Network account on your PS4. However, there is no way to do such sharing with two PS4s or two PS5s.

Ultimate Game Pass for Xbox and PC is a phenomenal deal, and we had no problems playing on Xbox and PC at the same time, but Microsoft didn’t make things easy either. I appreciate being able to play on different machines — even when playing the same game cooperatively — but you have to jump over the hoop, specify your “Home” dashboardand set up Family Sharing. And there are still insurmountable limits to EA Play titles or xCloud gaming.



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