Despite what naysayers have been saying, it seems that the next gaming revolution might indeed be cloud gaming services. Or gaming rentals, if you like. But while that market is occupied by giants as early as now, with Sony’s PlayStation Now and NVIDIA’s GRID vying for gamer loyalty and money, Silicon Valley startup Utomik is daring to compete head on. And it just might be able to do so, depending on how well it is able to deliver its promise of an almost “instant play”, lag-free cloud gaming session.
PlayStation Now and NVIDIA GRID can be likened to video streaming service, where the games are actually run and the graphics rendered on the server side and what gets sent to players are actually streamed videos of the game which they can interact with. While this allows gamers to practically save on computing hardware, Utomik doesn’t believe in such a model and thinks that it can do better, delivering an experience that is 100 times faster than these two.
That is definitely a bold claim, but Utomik also claims it has the technology to back it up. Instead of streaming pre-rendered videos, what Utomik does is to actually download the game bit by bit on the user’s computer, being smart enough to know which files would be needed next. This approach has two benefits. The first is that gamers can start immediately playing once the first parts of the game have been downloaded. The rest gets fetched and added in the background.
The second is the basis for Utomik’s lag-free bloast. The game does run on your hardware, making full use of its capabilities and freeing you from being beholden to your Internet connection. Conversely, it does imply you’ll need a decent gaming rig, but most gamers already have that anyway.
Due to this technique, which most likely needs less rendering muscle compared to Sony’s or NVIDIA’s, Utomik is able to offer the service for only $9.99 a month. Right now, the service is still in closed beta testing and only has around 80 titles to show off. It will be quite a while before we are able to confirm Utomik’s ambitious promise of unlimited, lag-free, and affordable cloud gaming.