Google is letting users try out Android games without installing them. It builds on an existing system for trying less demanding apps.
The Play Store already has a “try before you install” option for some apps. It’s based on the idea that some users have limited space and want to see if it’s worth installing a particular app.
Originally this involved running the app on a remote server and streaming the resulting video to a user’s phone. This was later updated so that “Instant Apps” are now run in the device’s memory. The relevant code is delivered to the phone in small chunks meaning that often only certain features are operational without installing the full app.
Only having part of the code available is particularly challenging for games, which is why Google has waited before using Instant Apps for gaming. Even now it’s only running a trial of six games, ranging from relatively simple ones like Words with Friends to more advanced ones like Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire.
How much of the game is available through the “Instant Gameplay” mode varies. In some cases it’s the full game, while with Final Fantasy it’s simply a one-on-one fight.
In the long term Google hopes not only to add the feature to more games, but to use it in creative ways such as letting a game owner play a multiplayer mode against somebody who hasn’t installed the game.