According to a patent, a new ‘instant play' mechanic could be on the way soon.
Valve Steam is currently the most popular PC gaming platform and may expand its core console support (from all sources) in the future. The newly registered patent describes a mechanism called "Instant Play", which suggests that you may play the game faster in the near future. Players would be able to start their newly purchased game before it finished downloading from the client.
According to the patent document, the mechanic allows for “track read operations,” as discovered by Steam DB creator Pavel Djundik. This would allow game data to be read and accessed before the game is completed downloading on a PC. steam news
Other features include “local preloading of game data to reduce latency when playing games” and “freeing up space by discarding unused data blocks.” Prefetching is a method of speeding uploading by running a process that is expected to be needed soon, thereby speeding up the game on Steam. Both of these secondary features could be extremely useful for gamers, making for a far more enjoyable gameplay experience.
We’ve seen this before, but there could be a twist this time.
The concept of pre-downloaded games has already begun on consoles, the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One promoted the concept, and the PS5 and Xbox Series X continue this tradition. Normally, there is the caveat that the game will only be partially playable until the download is finished. However, the patent includes an intriguing phrase: "without limitation."
Although not explicitly stated in the patent, this may mean that "instant play" will allow the game to be fully playable before it is completely downloaded. However, this is all speculative, as Valve's announcement of its plans was not, shall we say, instantaneous.