Google Play Instant is Google’s new killer feature for indecisive Android users who, like me, never know if they really want to take the plunge on a new game. Instead of wasting time downloading and installing a new title – and giving it permissions access – Google Play Instant lets you play without even installing.
In some respects, you can think of it as a streaming service akin to PlayStation Now or EA Access, but instead it’s just for demoing Android games before you buy them. Currently the games selection is limited, featuring just a handful of games as the service is currently in Beta mode for developers. In time, however, you should start to find almost all of the Google Play catalogue working in the same way.
You can access Google Play Instant games by opening the Google Play Games app on your Android device or by heading to the Google Play Store. Set games will have a lightning bolt and “Play” icon underneath the title and then your game will load almost instantly. In the Play Games app you’ll find it under a new section labelled “Instant Gameplay”.
Having given the service a go myself with Bubble Witch 3 Saga and NYTimes Crossword it actually works surprisingly well, even over terrible data connections at GDC. There’s absolutely no install time and games run exactly like they would if they had been installed onto your phone.
If you decide you want to install the game, you can do so directly from within the app without having to navigate back to the Google Play Store.
Google made no real mention of it in its blog post, but it’s likely we’ll see this feature creep into Google’s Universal App Campaign structure that lets people install apps directly from Google searches or adverts. If that’s the case, it could really have a huge impact on how people find and play new games – meaning Google could have another advantage on drawing developers to Android over iOS.