AWOMO's Rent-to-own

Steamreview has a nice report on AWOMO (A World Of My Own), which is a new digitial distribution service which is currently being beta-tested, IIRC. Being run by GDI (UK company) and Virgin. I found this part particularly interesting - gotta love the new methods online distribution enables.

"Rent-to-Own will be massive as soon as people understand just what it offers them the opportunity to do," says Game Domain International's Rob Donald during our interview. "Any registered user can play a game by paying by the hour, at a rate determined by dividing the full price on AWOMO by the maximum rental period (currently five hours). If the user plays the game for five hours then they will have paid the full cost of the game and won't be charged any more for playing it. They will own it."

Keep in mind that this is in addition to standard demos and the 'Free Time' concept, so you still get to test a title without having to pay, of course.

Add to this scheme Free Time, which provides free access to full versions of games in the programme (Donald assures me these will include recent releases) until the clock ticks down, and it becomes clear that buying from AWOMO is not the moment in time we are used to but an ongoing event. We might start with the demo, move on to Free Time if we like it, initialise Rent-to-Own when we're more confident, and if we're still enjoying ourselves later in the day own the game forever and be automatically topped up with Free Time again. Change your mind half-way in? Just step away.

I love the promise of digital distribution, but the 5 hour idea will need to be re-thought. Assuming a $50 game, that's $10 an hour, and I don't see any way that anyone thinks $10 for 1 hour of play is worth it. Free Time sounds interesting, but I think the core idea of renting has to be viable for this to be anything other than a blip.

I agree with ... *choke* ... agRee... uhrk!.... AgREe WiTH *LEGION*.

My brain hurts.

Its a flexible idea though. They could stretch it out to $5/ hour and 10 hours to own and go as far as they want. Heck they can probably let the user choose different rates, like if they're confident in a game they can go for the $10 per hour and end up paying $50, and if they're not so sure they could have a $2/hour option that maybe goes up to $60 in the end if you end up playing enough to own it.

I've really hated not being able to rent PC games lately. I've bought some bombs and stuff that just didn't appeal to me beyond a few hours. Hellgate especially. I still go back to it reluctantly once in a while to feel like my money was worth it but if I had a chance to rent it for a few hours, I'd have saved some cash and not bought it. I didn't buy Crysis because I'm not confident that the game has any more to offer that wasnt in the demo. The list goes on.

While I'd really prefer a Gamefly type solution for PC, this might do.