EA has patented a technology that could allow people to stream games while they download in the background.
The patent was approved on February 16 and can be found over on the US Patent and Trademarks Office website along with a funky diagram explaining how it works (thanks, GameRant).
Described as a "dynamic video game client," the technology seeks to check if a game being launched has been downloaded on the user's PC. If not, the game will instead be streamed upon request, while it downloads in the background. Once the game's downloaded, the client will seamlessly shift from the streamed version to the locally downloaded one.
It's a pretty nifty bit of technology if EA goes anywhere with it—it says it seeks to bridge the "time consuming" installation process, which with the size of some games these days (looking at you, Warzone) can take hours. Bit annoying if you're looking to jump into a game with your mates, but don't have it installed.
That's not to say it'll be perfect, though. Streaming games is still relatively uncommon, requiring a ton of resources on both ends. A lot of internet connections still aren't up to scratch for streaming games at a consistently good quality—throw a 100GB+ download in the background and if your internet is anything like mine, it'll buckle within seconds.
There's already a bunch of similar technologies knocking about: World of Warcraft's launcher has different stages of critical download data which allows you to play the game before it's already installed, albeit at a lower stability. A bunch of other games will usually let you play the first mission or a small segment before the rest downloads, too.
These usually involve a small initial download though, and EA's patent looks to eliminate that entirely. It all sounds very convinient and means next time you get the impulse to return to a game you've long uninstalled, you won't have to wait hours to play it.