A company called Game Domain International has unveiled an exciting project for PC, combining a social, interactive environment like Second Life with the games-on-demand appeal of Valve's Steam game download software.
A World Of My Own (or, charmingly, AWOMO) will also bear similarities with PlayStation 3's Home. It's a 3D world for gamers, the developer GDI claim, where "launching a game is as simple as walking into a room in one of the many themed buildings in the environment". And, in order to prevent AWOMO becoming just a better-dressed download client, the technology behind it won't force you to wait around while your chosen game downloads onto your PC.
More interestingly, AWOMO (we're already sold on the acronym) will offer full-blown PC games, not merely browser time-wasters or simple simulations. You'll be able to wander the world, drifting from genre to genre of game by navigating the different districts. And GDI promise that downloading and getting started with a brand new game will take "minutes, not hours."
This is down to some inventive techno-thinking. Instead of supplying the entire game to your hard drive, which often amounts to gigabytes of data, you'll download a "stub." A stub will take only minutes to haul onto your PC, and contains all the fundamental files needed for the game to run. The rest of the game can be downloaded when needed as you play. Cleverly, this system also bypasses risks of piracy, as you'll never actually have the entire source code on your PC.
Payment appears to be similarly well thought out. A monthly subscription gives you access to the virtual world, and the charge varies depending on how long you play for. In other words, someone who logs on just to play six hours of Half-Life 2: Episode Two a week will pay less per month than a gamer who plays BioShock for six hours a day. Though GDI indicate that you'll never end up paying more for a game in AWOMO than if you went to a shop instead.
GDI aim to offer every single game for PC, from brand new releases to older, archived titles. How comfortable developers and publishers will be in offering their games up for the service is another matter. How, for example, will Valve titles like Half-Life 2 work outside of Steam? What about multiplayer - can you only play with other AWOMO users?
If you fancy road-testing AWOMO's potential, you can get involved with a Beta trial by registering at www.awomo.com. Those chosen will be able to play over 50 games for free. Even better, you'll be gifted with "special privileges" when the full version rolls out in a few months time.
May 25, 2007