These days everything is hosted in the cloud and now, thanks to Utomik, a game streaming service currently in beta, gamers can have a slice of the pie too. Utomik is a USA-based startup that was founded in 2014 with the goal of enabling you to access games as easily as you would TV shows, music and movies. In some ways, you could look at it as the Netflix of gaming, minus the dependence on a fast internet connection.
The basic idea behind the service is to allow you to play the games you want to play long before they finish downloading. The client downloads just enough to start playing the game, and cleverly calculates how quickly your network can stream in the rest of the files necessary to continue. This is accomplished through a form of progressive downloading, that is, technology that downloads what you need as you need it. One issue I’ve found with this system is its reliance on you being online all the time. A loss of network connection boots you out of the game you’re playing. This is somewhat annoying but unavoidable with this type of service.
Magical cloud-based servers don’t render the games ahead of time and stream it to your computer, which means that you need a PC powerful enough to run the games you want to play. Most gamers shouldn’t have a problem with this since the game library on offer by Utomik is comprised of mostly older, less demanding titles – don’t expect to see recent AAA titles to play. A lot of the games on offer are old or indie titles that you may have picked up on a Steam sale. As such, the selection of games won’t be that great for hardcore gamers. However, casual gamers or those new to gaming will find plenty to enjoy.
The benefit of games rendering on your local computer is clear whenever you launch any of the games on offer – there is no buffering or staring at download screens once you’re in a game. Utomik is by far the quickest gaming platform in terms of getting you into the game. It takes the progressive downloading functionality first introduced in the latest generation of consoles a step further and allows you to play what you like in record time. As a matter of fact, Steam, Xbox Live and the Playstation Network can learn a thing or two when it comes to this.
It’s great that you can hit the play button and load up your game in the time it would take to make a cup of coffee. Naturally, there are some games that don’t complete their initial download quite as quickly, but it’s still way faster than any other client I’ve ever used.
I personally don’t like the look and feel of the Utomik client – it feels dated and it isn’t immediately obvious where to find settings or menus that you may be looking for. On the bright side, finding the games you want to play is easy as they’re all displayed front and center on the home screen of the client.
Functionality wise it works perfectly, and I haven’t found any bugs worth mentioning but it does lack some needed visual polish. Luckily, this is nothing that a front-end update couldn’t fix since the core technology is really good. MacOS and Linux users can sadly not use the Utomik client, although many of the games on offer definitely do support those platforms.
It’s a shame that Utomik doesn’t offer a more diverse selection of games to play. As it stands, there aren’t many games available that really help to sell the service, so there’s not much of a reason to pay the $5.99 USD asking price at this point in time. I couldn’t find much that I haven’t played already or that isn’t gathering digital dust somewhere in my Steam library. In a way, this reinforces
In conclusion, if they can offer some more recent, sought after titles at the same price point then the service could really become a strong contender in the gaming ecosystem. However, people new to PC gaming could definitely get their money’s worth while they build up their own library of games they’ll probably never touch. It’s difficult to recommend Utomik to most gamers at this point in time – the core technology is great, but the client’s UI and games selection is severely lacking.
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