The second ‘cloud gaming’ service, Gaikai, has now launched, offering in-browser, streaming versions of Spore, Dead Space 2 (demo) and Mass Effect 2 (demo.)
Judging by the Gaikai home page, its being promoted as a kind of marketing tool for publishers; a method of offering streaming demos of your games to the general public, without making them download anything in particular (java aside.)
Dave Perry talks more about the launch on his blog (where he notes, “we’ve secretly been up and running for months, quietly, testing, collecting analytics, improving things etc”,) and also links to a few places where you can try Gaikai for yourself.
If you hang around Gaikai’s main page for long enough, you’re likely to get a pop-up offering the Mass Effect 2 demo. For Dead Space 2, you first have to fill out a short survey; and for Spore, just click .
Each game will perform the necessary speed tests to see if your bandwidth can handle streaming it.
Having given the Dead Space 2 demo a go for ten minutes, I can say that it ran pretty smoothly with minimal hiccups. The graphics obviously appeared lower in quality due to the nature of the stream (and much worse than when I downloaded a demo of the same game via Xbox LIVE,) but I was able to get a very quick sense of how the title played. For example, I now know that navigating the inventory menus using a keyboard is a massive pain in the arse.