Wave's Bright Idea

Video game rentals have bolstered the profits in that industry; Wave Systems wants to see if that model will work for PC games.

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Wave Systems announced Wednesday that it is creating a new form of distribution for the PC industry that allows hundreds of different titles to be placed on a series of CD-ROMs or DVD-ROMs for rental purposes.

The idea is that video game rentals have bolstered the profits in that industry, and a similar system might do the same for PC games.

Described as a potential "Blockbuster Video of Internet commerce," the Wave system allows the bundling of CD-ROMs that include hundreds of encrypted titles that users can either rent on a per-use basis or rent-to-own basis along with PCs. Each disc will include several free titles along with US$5 worth of prepaid usage, and can be accessed using Wave's WaveMeter technology.

Wave states that 70 percent of all Nintendo titles are rented first and 35 percent of CD-ROM purchases are returned or customers say they are dissatisfied with their purchases. This model would allow players to try before they buy, and the developers will earn some money from rentals. Wave is expected to announce some bundling deals soon, and it plans to roll out the first CD-ROM bundles early next year.

Currently, however, PC gamers are used to downloading playable demos released free from web sites. Video games aren't available in that form.

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