Google Play Instant games let you play first, download later

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Ever wanted to play a mobile game, but were on the fence about downloading it? Or, maybe you did want to install a game, but there were too many steps involved, so you lost interest?

Google Play Instant hopes to solve this conundrum. Just like Android Instant Apps, which Google launched in 2017 to let you try (some) Android apps before downloading, Google Play Instant lets you try out Android games first, no install required. 

Google announced Google Play Instant during a keynote today at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2018.

It's important to note that Google Play Instant game experiences aren't the complete game, but rather a smaller version of the game, Jonathan Karmel, Senior Project Manager for Google Play Instant, told TechRadar. Some are tutorials, others are entire levels, and others let you play a bot over and over again, like Words With Friends 2. 

"It's not the full game, but it does capture the full experience," Karmel said.

The selection of Google Play Instant games so far

The selection of Google Play Instant games so far

Google Play Instant games aren't confined to the Play Store. Instantly playable games are also accessible through social media posts and ads, places where Google has historically seen drop offs in installations.  

Helping developers get more users into their games is a large part of what Google Play Instant is all about. Karmel said that Google is already seeing an increase in acquisitions from users who might have given up downloading a game had they not had a chance to play it first.

Room to play, room to grow

Google Play Instant may have lofty aims, but it's decidedly limited right now. It's currently in a closed beta with eight developers as Google works to develop the tools that game makers will need to create instantly accessible experiences. 

"We're working hard to make sure any developer can develop an instant app," Karmel said. Google expects to open up Google Play Instant later this year, and perhaps we'll hear more about it at Google IO 2018.

Right now, you can play Clash Royale, Words with Friends 2, Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Panda Pop, Solitaire, Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire, and Mighty Battles through Google Play Instant.  

To access Google Play Instant games, head to the Instant Gameplay section in the Google Play Store, or the Arcade section in the revamped Google Play Games app.

Android Instant Apps haven't taken off, and with just a few games in the Google Play Instant program, it's unlikely these will either, at least right away. But it's a sign that Google isn't giving up on instantly accessible content, and hopes the concept catches on with developers and users. 

And considering instant apps aren't available on iOS, and no iOS 12 rumors point to the feature coming this year, it's a flag Google can plant firmly in the ground over rival Apple. 

We're on the ground at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco this week covering the latest in gaming, from mobile and consoles to VR headsets. Catch up on all the latest from GDC 2018 so far!