On the morning of March 19, Jonathan Karmel, a product manager at Google, took the stage at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco to announce a new service for gamers called Google Play Instant.
Rather than having to search for games in the Play Store and then download them to their device, users could immediately begin playing select titles like "Solitaire" or "Pac-Man" online from within the Play Store, saving them time as well as space on their phones. All they had to do was tap "Try now."
The morning after his presentation, an email landed in Karmel's inbox from Jonathan Zweig, whose start-up, AppOnboard, was doing the same kind of work, providing software so that gamers could live demo a mobile game before installing it. Zweig hadn't attended the keynote, but he read Karmel's corresponding blog post.
"We love it," Zweig wrote to Karmel. "Are you free for 30 mins this week? We are all here at GDC."
"Does 3pm today work?" Karmel wrote back.
That meeting kicked off a five-month project between the two companies to expand the "Try now" option and make it available for hundreds, and eventually many thousands, of apps.
On Thursday, that technology went live. Developers such as Jam City, publisher of "Cookie Jam" and "Panda Pop," and Scopely, the creator of "Looney Tunes: World of Mayhem," are using it to launch games faster and make them quickly accessible to more users from within the Play Store. The games can download in the background, so once users have tried them once, they'll be available as an app on their phone — just like any other game.
The way Zweig sees it, the Play Store is just the start of this rollout for Google. He said the company has alluded to its plans to have game demos show up across multiple properties, so a user could eventually play a demo of a game next to a YouTube video or alongside search results.