How to effectively disable family sharing and reduce botting/exploiters -- Amazon, please read!

I have received information from my friends that Amazon said they are looking at disabling the Family Sharing feature from Steam, but that requires help from Valve. Well, guess what, as I am a player concerned about New World, I will share some options that AGS can take to prevent people from playing the game without paying (e.g. bots and exploiters).

First of all, there are 3 methods:

  • Disable family sharing completely

This requires access to the Steamworks Portal to edit the settings of your game on Steam. Since I don’t have access to this portal, I believe it’s just a matter of finding a variable called exfgls. You can see this variable enabled for Rust on SteamDB: https://steamdb.info/app/252490/info/

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This is by far the easiest method to disable family sharing, and it would no longer allow people to borrow paid accounts to bot or exploit, without their botting account owning the game.

  • Use Steam WebAPI to check if the player is playing a shared game
    This method makes use of the Steam WebAPI to check if the game a player is currently playing is actually owned by the player.

The endpoint is https://api.steampowered.com/IPlayerService/IsPlayingSharedGame/v1/, with the following parameters:

  • key: Steam WebAPI key
  • steamid: the Steam ID of the player you want to query
  • appid_playing: the app ID of New World, in this case, 1063730

If the player is playing a shared game, it will return a JSON response containing the Steam ID of the user that actually owns the game. However, there are some problems with this method, as it’s not possible to know whether or not the user is currently playing a game or if they are actually playing a game they own – both these cases will return 0 for the “borrower” Steam ID in the response.

In other words, it’s not possible to differentiate if the user is not playing the specified game or if they own the specified game.

More info: Steam Web API Documentation

  • Use Steamworks API to check game ownership

This is the preferred method, as it is possible to check whether or not a user actually owns New World or if they are playing it via free weekend or family sharing. It can also be incorporated as part of the authentication process with Steam when you open the game, and it requires a Publisher API Key, which you already have because you published New World on Steam.

I won’t go into too much details because everything is explained on the Steamworks Docs: User Authentication and Ownership (Steamworks Documentation) (under Ownership Verification), but I’d like to highlight that the endpoint used (ISteamUser/CheckAppOwnership) has nice return parameters:

So, yes, it is possible to determine whether the player owns the game on Steam or not. I believe New World can also run standalone (without Steam if you buy it on other game stores), so this would only affect Steam users. Still, Valve recommends calling this on a secure server, which means, as soon as you start the game, the server should request the Steam ID of the current user, call this endpoint and show a modal saying “Family Sharing is not allowed” or something similar, and as soon as you click to dismiss the dialog, the game closes.

I believe the best combination would be to disable Family Sharing completely via the developer portal and include this ownership verification to prevent people from playing the game without buying an account, using this to exploit bugs and bot, effectively ruining the game.

EDIT: In any case, whether Amazon decides to implement these ownership checking features or not, I believe they should adopt the same policy from CS:GO. If I borrow my game to a friend, via Family Sharing, and they get banned for whatever reason, I should also get banned. If my friend gets a perma ban, I should get a perma ban in my account, because I am somehow responsible for the person who borrowed the game from me. And if I use Family Sharing, while being banned, to another account, that new account should be instantly banned. Also, perma bans in New World should give you a Game Ban on your Steam profile.

EDIT2:: Game Bans can be issued by a publisher and are publicly visible on the Steam profile:
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https://partner.steamgames.com/doc/webapi/ICheatReportingService#RequestPlayerGameBan

Developers must be approved to use this system, and Valve reserves the right to revoke access to the system if the developer abuses it.

Valve reserves the right to revoke this feature from publishers if they find out it’s being abused, however, I’m pretty sure that unless the ban was triggered by the automatic report system, there’s no way Valve will revoke this feature from AGS.

108 Likes

This seems like an extremely easy fix and i have no idea why they havent done this yet

20 Likes

I dont think they specifically said disable family sharing. I dont feel like searching for the dev post, but i think it was something along the lines of fixing it, not disable.

That’s why they have dev tracker :yum: easier to find em.

Because they are garbage at their job.

7 Likes

This needs to stop.

34 Likes

Wow, cool. By the way, what will happen to the thousands of people who play with, literally speaking, their families? Will they lose their characters?

3 Likes

This is not an approved method of playing this game, 1 purchased license enables 1 properly logged into steam account to access the game and create 2 characters. Currently people are logging into their steam accounts for which they have not purchased the game, and using family sharing to generate a game license on that account. I DO however believe that if you have been using the family sharing method to access the game and it is disabled, purchasing a legitimate license on Steam will allow you to access your characters again.

4 Likes

Well, that’s up to AGS to decide what to do with them, I’d suspect they wouldn’t lose their characters unless there is a database wipe/purge of inactive accounts, which is very unlikely to happen.

As I said in another post, even though there might be legitimate people using Family Sharing to play with their family/friends, if you are all playing at the same time you are abusing a bug on Steam that can get your account banned because you are violating the Steam Subscriber Agreement. That’s the first part.

The second is that account sharing is forbidden in all major MMOs (including New World), and family sharing shouldn’t be exempt from this, as it is a form of account sharing. And allowing family sharing opens a huge grey area for exploiters and cheaters to contradict Amazon and justify their actions as “but account sharing is allowed!”. Unfortunately the legit players will have to pay the price for the bad actors.

Leaving Family Sharing enabled unfortunately has much more cons than pros.

This is essentially the same as making the game free to play.

EDIT: in any case Amazon decides to leave Family Sharing enabled, they should at least verify if the account owns the game and if they are caught exploiting or cheating, both the owner and the user that borrowed the game should be banned. And if you try to share your banned game with another account, that account should also be banned.

5 Likes

This is not true. Family sharing is not ‘account sharing’ in the sense that MMO’s mean that phrase. MMO’s do not want you to share your actual game account because they want to limit the number of people who could theoretically be responsible for any given action on that account to one person. Family sharing allows you to play multiple accounts using the same copy of the game. As long as only one unique person logs into any given account, then that account is not being shared.

2 Likes

I feel that the fact this hasn’t happened yet is extremely telling of the leadership structure within AGS. There are probably tons and tons of red tape and hoops to jump through, and this just doesn’t get through that.

2 Likes

Then why should I pay for the game if I can ask someone to just borrow me their copy of New World on Steam and I can abuse a bug from Steam to allow both of us to play the game at the same time? Which is exactly what people have been doing, and the amount of people legitimately playing the game by this method is much, much smaller than the amount of people using this to abuse exploits and bugs and not get their main accounts banned.

3 Likes

I am feeling sad for the devs because I read feedback from a former AGS employee and what they said is pretty much the executives saw the “promising” networking code stack that was used in Crucible (which is terrible and prioritizes client over server, which is terrible for MMOs) and they pretty much said “ship it”.

Besides all the bugs and the game being broken to an extent, I do believe Amazon itself (the executives) is to blame for the rushed and incomplete release. I still want to believe that the devs are doing what they can to fix the issues, but even then they should have done many things already, such as implementing a PTR, the game should also have been released as Early Access, and they should release hotfixes every day, not once per week.

4 Likes

They should ban both the steam account + the license key involved if they don’t want to mess with the family share option for legitimate players.

Family members whose license key got revoked because of a bad family member can still buy a new license key if they want to keep playing (with a fresh character that is).

So i’ll have to buy one copy for each person on my family because (???). Nice

Your game character is tied to your Amazon account, not your steam purchase. To disable family sharing would only force each individual to pay the $40 for the game, upon which they could log back in and maintain all progress they had before the license sharing was disabled :slight_smile:

Every time I see a post like this I think I was dumb to pay $39 for the game when I can play it for free.

My name is Deulon and I approve of this post.

:+1:

2 Likes

Or they can just use the steam ban system instead for steam users!
Blocking family access is a bad way to address this issue while steam has a game ban system that bans the owner of the game & the current player. Blocking people from using family share is just a bad solution to the problem…
Not only will this ban people but also show it on people’s profiles on steam so people who care about there steam will exploit less.

Steam Support :: Banned by Game Developer (Game Ban) (steampowered.com)

2 Likes

I bet they have a contract with Valve to not disable Steam features at their end.