One of the major selling points of the PlayStation 4 was how easy it would be to jump right into a game. Just surf the online PlayStation Store for your title of choice, and immediately begin playing. Now, it looks like that advantage might be moot: Microsoft says its Xbox One can perform the same trick, allowing you to play Xbox Live games while they download. While the company had already said that gamers would be able to start playing disc-based games while they install, today Microsoft confirmed to Polygon and Engadget that once "a fraction of the entire game" has been downloaded, Xbox One owners will be able to "jump into the action" while the rest of the title downloads in the background.
While some of the more exotic cloud computing features that Sony and Microsoft are promising seem like they might be a ways off, it seems like play-as-you-download isn't a particularly hard nut to crack: Sony's PlayStation 3 already uses the technique to allow gamers to begin playing apocalyptic action-adventure The Last of Us while they download its many gigabytes of data. Perhaps that's because it's been floating around the industry for a while: it's a feature we saw in experimental form when we visited Gaikai last year, and before that at a company called InstantAction.