New Conventional Wisdom: They're, um, letting us play some of their old games for free. They're nice people, after all.
Look, Square-Enix is such a big company that they can encompass both Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy. They can price-gouge and demonstrate the wonderful generosity of letting us play high-end games in our web browsers for zero dollars.
Using Square's new Core Online service you can play Mini Ninjas and Hitman: Blood Money in a browser right now, for free. Try it right here. (Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light as well as Tomb Raider: Underworld are coming later).
There is, of course, a catch:
Watching ads is better than paying, yes? You get 10 minutes of game time per ad.
Though... the official Core Online FAQ contradicts that official image:
How often will the ads appear?
You will normally earn 20 minutes of game time for each 1 minute advertisement you view – although occasionally this may vary. Adverts will also appear during loading screens; but the load time is not artificially increased by this, and ads viewed in this way will earn you additional game time.
This is all you need:
And this is probably what you want to know about:
How will the transition between game and advertisement be handled?
During loading and when you game-time runs out, you will automatically be taken to the ad block when you earn additional game time.
Is there a limit to the number of ads a user might watch in order to earn game time?
At any point you can accumulate a maximum game time of 60 minutes; as you use this game time, you will be able to top up again by watching additional ads.
What if I don't want to watch ads?
You can always choose to skip ads by directly purchasing levels or full games. The cost of content will always be listed out on a case-by-case basis.
Finally, they said the specs wouldn't be high to play these games in your browser, and they weren't kidding:
Specs for Hitman:
Windows XP or later
Pentium 4 1.5Ghz or Athlon XP Equivalent
DirectX 9.0c compatible video card which supports Hardware TnL and Pixel Shader 2.0 (GeForce FX / Radeon 9500 or higher)
DirectX 9.0c Compatible Sound Card
Windows compatible Mouse and Keyboard (Gamepads and controller are not supported)
Pentium 4 2.4Ghz or Athlon XP/64-bit equivalent
ATI X800 series, Nvidia GeForce 6800 series or higher video card
DirectX 9.0c Compatible Sound Card, Sound Blaster X-Fi series
Anyone have a problem with this? It seems pretty good, no?