Yes, you read that correctly. Currently www.gaikai.com is offering a service that allows you to play computer game demos right from your browser, no download required! The catch? You need java. However, most people already have java installed on their systems and can play right away. This is an interesting way to try out new games without filling hard drive space. I tried the Mass Effect Demo, and I have to say, it’s pretty playable. You can tell the sound is highly compressed, and there are a few video artifacts, but nothing to be alarmed about.
I think it will be a popular way for advertisers to reach out to users to get some interest in their products. Imagine an ad on the side of a site. Click on it, and it takes you to the game demo, where you can be swayed or dismayed, and possibly buy. Granted, it’s not a game video, so weaker computers will not be able to handle the processing load on the machine as easily and you may find stuttering.
According to Gaikai’s faq their goal will be to also produce demos of software such as that provided by Microsoft or Adobe.
Here’s a screenshot:
and here’s one when bandwidth gets a little screwy: