New download service slashes game download times

British company Game Domain International has launched a new download service called "Awomo", which will slash game download times by allowing users to start playing a game before it has finished downloading.

With many digital download services, such as Valve's Steam and IGN's Direct2Drive, customers need to download the entire game before it can be played, and with games often reaching several gigabytes in size, it can take a while to download a game.

"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," said Awomo boss Roger Walkden.

Awomo works by downloading the necessary core files required to play the game, then continues to download the rest of the content while you start playing the game. Tomb Raider: Legend, one of the games on offer, is 7.2GB in size. However, users will only need to download 652MB to start playing the game. Unfortunately, not all games will work with this partial download and play system.

John Houlihan, manager of Computer and Videogames website, told BBC News that digital downloading is the future. "File size still makes digital downloading prohibitive in many cases, but as fibre optic comes in, that will really change things," he said.

"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."

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For the first time we have created a system that really does for games what iTunes does for music

What iTunes does for music? Like tag DRM onto them? Yeah, that's exactly what everybody needs.

It's not like iTunes was the first store to offer music downloads, right?

As Fi Op becomes more availabe, this service will no longer be necessary. It's barely necessary now as I can download the entire HL2 catalog over night using a "plain old" cable modem.

I guess it could come in handy for people who have an ISP that limit their bandwidth each week/month. People could max out their bandwidth and get as much of the game as possible, start playing, then continue d/l'ing it when they're limit opens up again. However, it would royally suck when you d/l the "core" files, start playing, and then the game stalls 1 or 2 levels in because you haven't downloaded the rest yet.

This service seems like a complete crapshoot, if you ask me.