Utomik is launching the open beta test for its game streaming service with a special offer of $5.99 per month for access to 145 video games.
The Silicon Valley startup is the latest game streaming company trying to deliver a “Netflix for games” with a clever combination of cloud and client technologies. If the company can crack the code on streaming by delivering working games that meet the quality requirements of gamers, then it could finally disrupt traditional retail in the way that Netflix has done with video store chains.
The service is free for two weeks, and then it costs $5.99 a month for unlimited gaming during the beta period. Later, the company will charge $10 a month, once it has more games and finalizes the service, said Doki Tops, chief executive and founder of the company, which has its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., and engineering in Eindhoven, the Netherlands.
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 is about to enter the fray with its Grid-based Shield set-top box and game console hybrid.
But Utomik is hosting games in the cloud. It is streaming small chunks of the games to your PC — enough to let you start playing the game. 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 Tops said it can do it better and it can predict what files you’ll need, resulting in smaller downloads required before starting. Tops said that the game will continue downloading so long as you keep playing. If you stop, then it will pause the download and not bother with the rest.
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. Tops said the content is “lag free” and 100-percent equal to disk-based game performance. Altogether, more than 600 games are under contract and in the pipeline.
Utomik contends that the cost of the operation is 1,000 times cheaper than cloud-streaming solutions, and that’s why the company can offer subscriptions so cheaply.
Tops founded Utomik in September 2014. Its advisors include Paul Eibeler, former CEO of Take-Two Interactive. It has 15 staff employees. 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 GameTap, Steam, Gamefly, and Nvidia. Utomik is funded by a private investors from Switzerland and The Netherlands. It has raised $3.5 milllion to date.
Among the featured games are Darksiders, Overlord, Titan Quest, The Raven, Evoland II and many more. Utomik open beta is now live in 30 countries across Europe, Canada, and the US, with more countries following soon.
Previously, Utomik ran in closed beta mode and during this time, the service generated over 16,000 sign-ups and its average rating was 8 out of 10, with 77 percent saying they would recommend it to a friend and 63 percent saying they enjoyed discovering games on Utomik.