Intrigued by OnLive, but don’t really want to invest in a glorified set-top box and weirdo controller? You’re in luck. GaiKai, a firm specializing in video game advertising, has launched a streaming game service that lets you play new games right in your browser. Nothing to download, even. Like literally, click here, wait for the popup (takes about 10 seconds if you have the bandwidth) and you’re playing Mass Effect 2.
I played through the intro and it worked like a charm with only a few stutters and artifacts, pulling about 5-6Mb/s of data on average for a 720p stream, but on a second go (to get a better screenshot, which I failed to do), it froze up and gave me a “recalibrating” error:
Not that this is necessarily GaiKai’s fault, but I would be mad if I’d paid for this. As it is, I can’t really get worked up about an ad not functioning correctly.
The strategy is basically a form of mega-advertising. Instead of putting a banner on a website that says “Hey come download the demo,” you literally embed the entire demo, and all the user has to do is click on it. Or, say, fill out a short survey, as this blog post by GaiKai CEO Dave Perry points out, and which you’ll have to do if you want to play Dead Space 2. After all, that bandwidth ain’t free. But it’s getting close.
It makes lots of sense, of course, though OnLive did a lot of work in proving they can scale it. Why shouldn’t you go to a website and have the demo “play”? For full games, I’d say a local install is still very worthwhile, but for demos, which take up a ton of space, take forever to download, and you only play for a half an hour or so? Bring on the streaming.