Is Instant Play Really as Convenient as It Sounds?


When people play digital content today from their desktop computer, smartphone, laptop, tablet, or dedicated gaming device, they generally have two options: download and install them onto their device or play instantly without the need to download.

I prefer instant play far more than download play. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I downloaded any programs, apps, or software just so I could play some of my favorite titles.

However, some people still prefer the download option and would rather not play it instantly because it suits their needs and requirements.

On this page, I will compare the main differences between downloadable and non-downloadable digital entertainment content to determine if the latter is as convenient as it sounds.

Is it Better to Download or Play Instantly?

I’ve found no right or wrong answer to this question, and it often boils down to various key factors and individual preferences.

For example, instant play content requires fast internet speeds, preferably 5G. However, fast 4G Wi-Fi/internet speeds usually suffice and are capable of handling some of the high-end, more graphically demanding triple-A blockbusters.

If you suffer from poor internet speeds, then you will likely encounter a range of issues when playing instantly online in real-time, such as constant buffering, latency, sticky graphics and animations. For me, the worst issue is getting disconnected halfway through the action, which is super annoying.

I’m lucky enough to have a fairly strong and stable internet connection at home, so these issues don’t usually affect me.

With that in mind, you will also find that most digital content today allows you to adjust the graphics quality to eliminate these issues, meaning you can lower the quality/FPS from HD (1,080p) down to 720p or lower if needed, but this makes the image grainy and compromises the experience.


People I’ve talked to with rubbish Wi-Fi/internet have said they can’t stand dealing with these issues and will avoid live streaming/instant play content and only play the downloadable version, or they will play a disc version that can be inserted into a console, such as an Xbox or PlayStation.

In other words, there are pros and cons for downloadable and non-downloadable content.

I’ve found that the majority of people I’ve asked are just like me and prefer the convenience of having access to an online library that doesn’t require any downloads whatsoever.

They agree that instant play is the way forward.

There’s just something about clicking or tapping on a game and then seeing it load in just seconds right in front of my eyes instead of downloading.

I don’t want to have to download content before I can unwind and sample my favorite titles. Also, playing this way means I won’t ever download harmful programs onto my device that could contain malicious software (malware), spyware, viruses, and other digital nasties.

Also, instant play content is live-streamed in real-time, which means we can also usually communicate with other people.

Being able to interact with other like-minded people when I immerse myself in my favourite titles adds a unique social element, which downloadable content cannot provide.

If you had asked me the same question ten years ago: is it better to play downloadable content or instant play? I would have told you the opposite, that downloadable content was better. I also believe that most other people who played back then would agree with this.

Before 2015, technology just wasn’t ready to handle instant play content as it is today.

For example, the things that make instant play services possible today for people like me are the following:

●           Live streaming capabilities

●           Fast internet speeds

●           Efficient web browsers

●           Cloud computing

●           Quicker and more secure online payment gateways

●           Better online security (more advanced SSL encryption)

●           Better desktop computers, laptops, consoles, handheld devices, and tablet devices

●           VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) technology has taken instant play gaming to new heights


All of the above technology simply wasn’t as advanced back then as it is today, and it couldn’t provide reliable instant play services.

Today, it is so far advanced that it allows us to experience our favorite hits uninterrupted in 4K Ultra HD quality without the need to download.

In the past decade alone, technology has gotten to a point where instant play has become far superior in several ways and the number-one choice for millions of people worldwide. It’s why the instant play option has become more popular than the download option.

Final Thoughts

If you want to play today’s best titles from the world’s biggest studios but still don’t know whether to download or go for the instant play option, perhaps try both to see which option better suits your needs.

You may find that you prefer the download option over the instant play option and vice versa. You won’t know until you try.