March 17, 2009

Speedy Game Downloads Offered By UK Company

A British company has introduced a new method of downloading video games, the BBC News reported. 

Awomo gives access to players to begin the game before the software has completed downloading, contrary to other systems.

Hold time, developers say, is much more abbreviated between clicking a download link and real game-play. 

Awomo boss, Roger Walkden, commented, "This is a super-fast way of distributing games.  For the first time we have created a system that really does for games what iTunes does for music."

Unlike the successfully established digital distribution of music, video-game downloading still makes up a miniscule percentage of overall sales. 

"File size [of games] still makes digital downloading prohibitive in many cases, but as fiber optic comes in, that will really change things," said John Houlihan, manager of the Computer and Videogames website.  He indicated to BBC News that digital downloading characterized the future for gamers. 

Developers of Half Life, Valve, initiated the development of video game digital distribution. 

Established in 2003, Steam, has almost 600 games available for download and 20 million subscribers, making it one of the top scenes for video-game downloads.

But the issue with Steam, and other digital download services like it, is that before it can be played the complete program must be downloaded. 

Downloading these large gigabyte files can take a considerable amount of time, particularly when using broadband with limited bandwidth. 

"What Awomo does is take the core files used to play the game, which is enough to get you up and running, and then download the rest of the content in the background," said Mr Walkden.

Tomb Raider Legend is one of the games available for download.  A standard internet connection measures the game at 7.2GB, but with digital downloading users will only have to download 652MB before being able to play. 

The additional files are definitely needed, but they are not necessary in the beginning and can be downloaded behind the scenes.

Developers are still working out suitability of games for partial download and play, as some games do not perform well this way. 

Popular mindset to digital downloading also is needed to change, suggests John Houlihan.  "There's a degree of nostalgia to physically buying a game from a shop.  Like vinyl records, people like having a DVD, box and associated manuals, but that will also change over time," he said. 

"We're on the cusp of a digitally downloaded gaming future."


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