When it comes to PC games, Steam is undoubtedly the de facto choice for users to buy and play games on. Valve’s online distribution service has thousands of games and an unparalleled game client that facilitates patches, DLCs, mods, and community features. As such, not many have shown the temerity to compete, with the few exceptions being EA’s Origin, and Good Old Games. Hence, it was surprising and interesting to know that Aido.com, a GCC-based online retailer, is now offering its own PC games download service.
Aido's game catalog.
Of course Aido.com is not worldwide, and it neither is aiming to be anything more than a simple download service. But what it can boast off is a burgeoning catalog of triple-A, old and retro games (over 800 titles is the official figure). They are run by Viva Entertainment, a major video games & movies distributor in the region, and have already signed on top publishers like EA, Sega, Ubisoft, 2K Games, Warner Bros., etc., to provide games for download.
The service is relatively simple to use – make a game purchase and it will be automatically added into your ‘Transaction History’. From there you can fetch the game’s CD-Key, as well as the web installer file used to download the game with.
The installer doesn’t have a physical button to pause downloads, but it does resume if you choose to continue it at another time. We maxed out our 4MB connection while downloading Rayman Origins, so downloading games even on higher bandwidth lines shouldn’t be a problem. Oh, by the way, the download was provided by Aido.com themselves, so yeah disclaimer: we did not buy it.
With Aido.com, there is no client to tie to, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on how you like to own your games. After the download completes, you will have a straight up .exe file to install the game. This is relatively DRM-free, meaning that you can install a game on multiple PCs and play it simultaneously, as long it is offline. We installed Rayman Origins on two PCs at the office and it ran just fine.
So far, I am impressed with what Aido.com has to offer. It’s a simple – and more importantly – a clean download service that doesn’t nag you with bloatware and advertisements, and gets out of the way immediately as the download is complete. Of course, the service is far too lacking (and new) to make me move from Steam, but the lure of client-free game downloads should prove good enough for many to jump aboard.
So, Aido.com is only a download service and it doesn’t have a client – but wait, how am I going to get my patches and DLCs? What about games that require Steam or Origin services? Is it really going to be that DRM-free? To clarify these and some additional questions, we spoke to Viva COO Shailesh Sawlani:
Tbreak: What kind of thought process went into launching this service? What prompted you to believe that this will be something that gamers in the region would be interested in?
We looked at the global trends in the gaming industry and it was recently concurred by the head of Electronic Arts who believes that the future of gaming is in the PC market.
The PC gaming segment has actually made a comeback from a seemingly downward trend as new trends have emerged really fast in the last 2 years. Subscriptions, micro-transactions and downloads are driving growth in this segment. The PC game market has managed to have a comeback through the issue of convenience. You can now buy and start playing PC games and even gain access to new expansions and add-ons without ever leaving your desk at home – all through our website – Aido.com.
In a recent survey carried out by Middle East Gamers, results show that the PC is still the primary gaming platform (43% of respondents) amongst the Middle East audience with the Sony PS3 not so far behind. When users were allowed to select more than one answer, over 73% of the audience games on the PC.
Trends in the Western markets usually break through in MENA as well and given that the audience here is already enthusiastic about PC gaming, the decision became easier for us. The PC Game Download service also complements our existing product categories on Aido.com – PS3 and Xbox games, Movies and Gadgets
Tbreak: It’s hard not talk about services like Steam, Origin, Good Old Games (GOG), etc. Do you aim to introduce some of the features that made these services popular (such as communities, friend list, better download management, cloud saves, etc), or are you looking to be just a download service?
This will mainly be a download service for full games, add-on packs and DLCs but we will definitely incorporate more community features on the website overall. The newer features will be based on rewards, reviews and discussions. We will continuously add more games to our catalog and improve the buying, downloading and installing process as we go along. We are already at 800+ games and we’re expecting some more publishers to work with us soon.
Tbreak: Aido.com doesn’t bundle DRM protection with downloads. This potentially would allow a user to install the game on multiple PCs or distribute the install file. Is this something you are worried about?
A lot of the older games are DRM-free. This is really the will of the publishers. Some publishers offer just one installation per customer. So if a customer tries installing single-key games on multiple PCs, they will be asked to enter the CD key on every PC they install. Every purchase comes with a fixed no. of CD keys and if they have already been used then the customer will not be able to play the game on additional PCs.
Of course if customers face loss of data or accidental deletion then we will help them get access to their games. The idea of doing this from the publishers’ point of view is not to make things difficult but to prevent abuse of their intellectual property and reduce piracy.
Our customer support desk will be glad to assist customers with any issues they may encounter.
Contact Details: firstname.lastname@example.org and +97148811886
Tbreak: Since the service doesn’t offer the infrastructure of a dedicated PC game client, how do you aim to offer things like patches and DLCs?
A lot of the DLCs can be installed straight from Aido.com through the mini-downloader. The DLCs are installed and validated through the original game. Some DLCs require Rockstar Social Club, Origin, Steam or other accounts to validate along with the original game. Once that is done, the game can be run from the desktop installation.
Tbreak: We have noticed the service offers games from EA, as an example, which ties up their games with Origin. Is there any possibility that purchases from Aido.com will work on other services like Origin or Steam?
Some downloads and games – even from Steam or Origin may require another account to validate for the first time.
Tbreak: Any plans to support Mac?
We have a lot of games for Mac already. Call of Duty games, Assassins Creed series, Company of Heroes and lots more are already live on Aido.com. We are simply a retailer. If more studios start developing games for Mac or at least start porting PC games to Mac as well then we could see a lot of interest from Mac owners to purchase the games. With the Mac market share growing I would think this is only a matter of time. Apple may well have plans for this segment considering gaming is one of the major reasons customers go for PCs.
Tbreak: Is Aido’s service only available to UAE users? Do you plan to expand it into other regions?
The service is available for customers from 9 countries – UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. We will concentrate on these countries for now. Aido.com caters mainly to the MENA region and the download service rights fits that focus.