Embedding audio and video across the Web is pretty simple thanks to sites like YouTube, Vimeo and others, but embedded computer games? It’s complicated, and yet InstantAction has found a way.
The service, which launched today, allows blogs and other Web sites to post full-length PC games right into the browser. I’m not talking about Flash games, either; InstantAction supports any programming language or engine that can run on a Windows PC.
The first game to work with InstantAction is The Secret of Monkey Island: Special Edition. Regretfully, I’m not able to get the game embedded in our setup here — how embarrassing! — but here’s the game running in Facebook, on Kotaku and on Joystiq.
When you start loading a game in InstantAction, it downloads data in chunks, giving you the most necessary bits first and filling in the rest as you play. Games run in a Web browser, and appear to be streaming, but they rely on the computer’s hardware to do the heavy lifting. In that sense, InstantAction is quite different than the upcoming OnLive, which processes all the graphics on its own servers and sends compressed audio and video to the player. If you’re worried about being shackled to a Web connection, InstantAction Community Manager Ian Tornay wrote in a comment on Joystiq that an offline client is in the works.
Monkey Island lets you play for 20 minutes before you’re asked to pay for the full version, and I expect other games to follow a similar model. The idea is to get players into the game without bothersome downloads and installations.
Things didn’t go so smoothly in my test of Monkey Island, as I had to first install the latest versions of DirectX and Java in order to play, and I’d like to see how the system handles beefier games, like the previously-demonstrated Tribes and Assassin’s Creed. Still, the concept is intriguing: If watching a video online is as simple as clicking a button, the same should be true for playing computer games.