Cloud gaming lives on.
Utomik said today that it struck a deal with game distributor Plug In Digital to add 200 more games to Utomik’s subscription cloud gaming service. The copmany is the latest of many to try to exploit cloud computing and create an innovative new gaming service with it. Utomik’s strategy is to stream games to players while they await them to finishing downloading, so they can start playing their titles 100 times faster compared to other solutions, like Valve’s Steam platform. It is packaging this service as a “Netflix for games” service that costs $10 a month.
Under the deal with Europe’s Plug In Digital, Utomik gets access to some games that people know, but not big hits. They include Shelter, WRC 5, Dead In Bermuda, Evoland 2, and Mini Metro.
If its battle plan sounds familiar, it’s because the idea of doing “Netflix for games” dates back to the early promises of OnLive, where you would be able to get a whole bunch of high-end games streamed via the cloud to any device for a monthly fee, just as Netflix does with movies. Sony offers the same kind of deal with its PlayStation Now cloud gaming service, and Nvidia has also entered the fray with its Grid-based Shield set-top box and game console hybrid.
But Utomik is hosting games in the cloud. It’s streaming small chunks of the games to your PC — enough to let you start playing. Instead of waiting for a long download, the games will be instantly playable when you click on them, according to Utomik. Meanwhile, the rest of the game will download while you play. Previous services like this were dubbed “progressive downloads.” But Utomik said it can do it better and it can predict what files you’ll need, resulting in smaller downloads required before starting.
Utomik wants to make playing games as easy as listening to music services like Spotify. Utomik said it has both classic titles and new ones. Altogether, more than 80 games are in the pipeline. Many of these classic titles are aimed at those ages 25 to 40. The newer games are aimed at younger folks who want instant gratification. Utomik also thinks that families that play games will like the price and the ability to control the age ratings for their kids.
Utomik was founded in September 2014 by Doki Topps and others. Its advisers include Paul Eibeler, former CEO of Take-Two Interactive (one of the biggest publishers of high-end games like Grand Theft Auto V on the planet). It has 15 staff employees. The tech team is in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, and the headquarters is in Palo Alto, California. Previously, the team worked on Kalydo, a technology that was licensed to game companies such as Cartoon Network, Gameforge, Gravity, and Shanda Games. Those companies had more than 200 million downloads with the Kalydo technology, but the team decided to pivot from a middleware provider to a consumer technology company.
Rivals include OnLive, GameTap, Steam, Gamefly, PlayStation Now, and Nvidia. Utomik is funded by a private investors from Switzerland and The Netherlands. It has raised $3.5 milllion.
Utomik is in the midst of moving to an open beta. To date, its closed beta service has attracted over 12,000 sign-ups.
“The partnership with Utomik fits perfectly within the scope of our strategy to simplify and distribute digital content worldwide via our network,” Francis Ingrand said. “Our developers and publishers will be able to market and promote their games by obtaining immediate access to a broad audience of gamers via Utomik’s subscriber base. Additionally, this means they will generate revenue each time their game is played.”
Topps added, “We are proud to have Plug In Digital as a partner as they bring types of games to our portfolio that we feel deserve much more attention. The quality and depth of their Indie portfolio is great. I think that some of their games, like Shelter, could almost be considered as small pieces of art. This aligns perfectly with our vision to Unleash Gaming and bring more games to more people.”