Gaikai CEO David Perry said on Thursday that Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online have become the first MMORPGs to be streamed by Gaikai to a web browser near you. Available to adventurers in North America, the streaming version of LOTRO is reportedly up and running (although there's no sign of it as of this writing), with DDO to follow soon.
"Gaikai's game streaming service will make it easier than ever for new players to start their epic adventures in our immersive online worlds," said Craig Alexander, Vice President of Product Development, Turbine. "Anyone wishing to try these popular MMOs can now instantly launch the games inside their web browser completely eliminating any download wait times."
Both MMORPGs are wholly owned by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group and developed by Turbine. For those who want a little Hobbit action, LOTRO offers three ways to play: free, premium and VIP. All three accounts have a level cap of 75, but free players are limited to one character per sever unless they shell out real world cash for additional slots. Other freebie limitations include a 2 GP cap, standard login, limited chat abilities and more.
Now here's the catch to Gaikai's seemingly cool offering: it's not a permanent feature. The use of the word "try" in Gaikai's announcement means gamers can test the MMORPGs before actually downloading and installing the game to the hard drive. This Gaikai FAQ hosted on the LOTRO site confirms this, stating that Middle-earth fans are allowed to play up to one full hour in the browser before being kicked off and forced to download the installer. That said, Gaikai is serving up streaming demos as usual.
"For most players, this [hour] will allow you to create your character and complete the starting area for your race," reads the FAQ. "At the end of the trial, you will be logged out from the game and your character and progress will be stored on our servers. You will then be provided with links to download the game client to continue your adventure."
Back in January, Gaikai announced that it signed up with LG to deliver cloud gaming to LG Cinema 3D TVs starting with the 2012 lineup. However currently the company has only provided streaming demos which can be found on various places on the Internet as well as Gaikai's own online showcase. Gamers can test-drive Crysis 2, Assassins Creed Brotherhood, Battlefield Bad Company 2 and others within a web browser without having to worry about hardware restrictions.
Is streaming demos, to some degree, false advertisement? PC gamers who aren't fully aware of their hardware capabilities may try these streaming demos, thinking their components can handle the pressure. But once they've purchased and installed the software, only to discover it performs like a man running through quicksand, the funds can't be refunded and they're stuck with unusable software. PC gamers are better off downloading and installing an actual demo to see how it performs locally unless the full-blown version has a streaming version available (like with OnLive).