"Games on Demand" is a term bandied around quite a bit at the moment, not least by Microsoft, who have a whole section of the Xbox Dashboard devoted to the concept. However, for the most part, it's a misleading term -- you can "demand" the game whenever you want, sure, but you've still got to spend an hour or two (or more) downloading before you can actually play it.

Or do you? New cloud gaming startup Happy Cloud has found a way to stream games straight to your computer, meaning you can be playing in a matter of minutes rather than hours.

Unlike OnLive's service, which streams a live video of gameplay to your computer, TV or portable device, Happy Cloud streams the actual game content to your computer, allowing you to start playing the game while the rest of the data is downloading. And because the game's actually running on your computer, you can feel free to take full advantage of that ninja graphics card you just dropped a few hundred dollars on, again unlike OnLive.

Happy Cloud estimates that with a typical DVD-sized game (about 8.5GB) you'll be playing within 2 minutes on a 20Mbps connection (10.5 minutes on a 4Mbps setup) -- not quite "instant" but a whole lot quicker than waiting for a service like Steam to download something.

The catalog is a little limited right now, with only Amnesia, Cities in Motion, FEAR, FEAR 2, Lego Batman, Lego Harry Potter, Majesty 2 and the Mount & Blade series available at this time. If the service proves successful and practical, though, Happy Cloud could be onto something here.

"Gamers don't want to wait overnight for a download that might get interrupted," explains Eric Gastfriend, VP and GM of Happy Cloud. "Happy Cloud offers instant accessibility for top quality PC games. Our technology enables a seamless trial-purchase flow that gives publishers a hassle-free way to expose their games to new audiences. We?re launching today with 10 games from 3 publishers, and we will be rapidly expanding the catalog post-launch."

Try it out for yourself if you live in the US right here.

This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as A New Cloud Gaming Challenger Appears: Happy Cloud