With the industry trending towards Games as a Service (GaaS), why not make game distribution itself also a service? That’s a question that Utomik is hoping to answer. Utomik is a competitor to clients like Steam, Uplay, Origin, and GOG Galaxy, but it’s actually more like PlayStation Plus or Xbox Game Pass because you don’t actually own the games you can play through the service. It’s more of a rental kind of deal, and for PC gamers that makes it very interesting as an alternative to the other services.
The service has actually been available for more than a year in beta form, but it wasn’t really recommendable because the company was still working through the expected list of initial bugs and teething issues. Now the official launch is finally here, and the Utomik client is in version 1.0. Utomik’s offering includes the ability to start the game download and play it once a certain percentage of it has been downloaded, much like console owners have been able to do for several years. This required changing how games are downloaded and installed through the client, and features like proxy files were needed to allow games to launch without most of the files downloaded.
Games also aren’t fully downloaded to your PC in the background when you’re playing for the first time. Files are instead streamed to you over time as needed (progress markers will indicate to Utomik when you’re going to need them), and they’re then seamlessly copied and inserted into the game while you’re playing.
The service has two tiers available: the personal plan, or the family plan. The personal plan is $6.99 per month and gives you single-user access to Utomik’s massive library of over 700 games with unlimited play time. You can sign up and cancel the service at any time, so you could treat this just like a Netflix subscription where you sign up for a month to play specific games on offer, and cancel the subscription when you’re done playing.
The family plan offers the same features, but it allows you to add up to three family members to your account, all of whom get their own user account with their own library of titles. Parental controls are also available if you’re adding minors to the service. Just like the personal account, you can cancel at any time, but I think you’d be less inclined to do so at just $9.99 a month.
Utomik works directly with game studios and publishers to get their titles on the service, so you’ll see titles from Warner Bros., Disney, Take-Two Interactive, Telltale Games, Epic, THQ Nordic, and more included in the roster. More are added each month too, with an average of 25 new titles each month added to the service. Unlike Xbox Game Pass, games that enter Utomik’s library aren’t removed after a certain amount of time.
If you already have a sizeable library of games on your system, this might not be the best service for you. You already own those licenses, so a subscription service probably isn’t going to cut it for you. But if you’re still building a library, or want to change how you pay for games in the future, this might be a good idea. At $9.99 per month, you’ll be spending $120 a year on the subscription, which would buy you two games at full price.
You can sign up for a 14-day trial on Utomik’s website and download the client from the same location. We’ll keep a close eye on this one. Utomik will have strong competition from Microsoft with Xbox Game Pass on Windows 10, and Electronic Arts with Origin Access, but these offerings are very likely the future of GaaS.