Play-while-downloading AWOMO in beta

Play free Total War in minutes. Theoretically.

Game Domain International has announced the public beta launch of its new digital distribution platform, AWOMO, which allows you to play big PC games while they download data in the background.

According to CEO Roger Walkden, this allowed users to start playing games "up to 20 times faster than convention download services" in private testing.

For the public beta, users are invited to try Creative Assembly's Rome: Total War for free, by supplying a username and email address and installing a 1.8MB browser plug-in.

After restarting the browser and clicking the link in an activation email, they can then download the game. A countdown timer in the top-right keeps track of exactly when they will be able to begin playing.

AWOMO's conversion table claims users on an 8MBps connection can have at it in 11 minutes, versus 54 minutes via "conventional download services". That's on a game that claims it needs 2.9GB hard disk space.

On our office connection, it took about 24 minutes after hitting the "Download" button to launch, but sadly the game didn't actually run on our cranky XP desktop. Boo!

Do be sure to tell us how you get on below, as the AWOMO chaps are listening.

"Digital Distribution is heralded as the future of video games retailing, but this will only happen if the download experience is improved for the end user," said Walkden, outlining his company's objective.

When it's finished, AWOMO aims to offer various payment options, including a rent-to-own model that uses an hourly rate until you've paid off the game; free demo time for active customers; accounts that can be accessed on multiple PCs; matchmaking, leagues and tournaments; and a catalogue of games both old and new.

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