What is streaming? Bandwidth don’t leave me, don’t crap out on me, no more.
Over the holidays I was thinking about a few titles that I had been wanting to play such as the Decay of Logos, X-Blades, Dead Island and Saints Row IV. Having the last two on my PS4, I did a quick search and thought to myself. Aren’t they all available on Utomik’s “streaming” platform? Picking up a subscription on my own this time after we’ve been graciously treated to the platform twice both before and for launch, I set off in a world gone mad. Narrowing things down isn’t it?
Utomik, for those that haven’t heard of it, is a streaming platform that works a bit like Netflix meets Steam. Browsing and ever growing catalog with excellent titles from Idea Factory, Focus Home Interactive, Deep Silver and Warner Bros. to name a couple, once you’ve decided what you want to play, you click on it, you say play, and you wait a brief minute or so for a large title to start, and you play.
Utomik’s approach is that very little is installed on your machine and the rest is all handled by your bandwidth. And it works very well, especially if you have a fast connection with unlimited usage. One perhaps downside that I didn’t notice when I had my tower, is that while your bandwidth handles the data, your CPU handles the load. So when playing the Decay of Logos, it didn’t take long to hear my fans start to run and the laptop start to get warm as it’s not exactly the most optimized with the amount of frame drops that I encountered. (Added note: turns out I either just needed a reboot or my laptop didn’t like the 4K TV that it was hooked to. It worked perfectly fine on my 34″ Acer Predator.)
Still over the holidays, I wondered to myself what I was going to do with my Stadia account. While the platform finally launched in November, other than a little bit of Destiny 2 here and there, I’ve barely touched it as while it’s touted as a full blown streaming platform, titles are just about full price and many of those titles have already been available on the PC and the Consoles. Having three months of pro and two almost being gone, I started to really wonder what the point was. That is until the “Royal Edition” of Final Fantasy XV went on sale for 25$ Canadian so I said why not.
The ideas behind Stadia are solid. You boot up the service from anywhere, and you play. The founders 4K Chromecast, my laptop, my phone or tablet, you select your game, make sure you have a controller attached to that device, and you play. Nothing is actually running on your system so the machine itself never even stresses. Unlike Utomik though, you are bound to praying that your internet and your WiFi hold up otherwise you get booted.
To give it credit, there’s a connection warning that appears if things are unstable to the point of crashing but it is odd, if not off-putting, to be looking at crystal clear graphics and then no longer have to wonder what FFXV looked like in 8-bit. So when it’s working? It’s working. But when things start to go funky it can take some time before getting back into the swing of things.
Like anything though, consoles or PC, PlayStation, Xbox or Switch, it comes down to personal choices, and in this very particular case, internet services and providers. Utomik has already established itself so it is a good choice and worth the value but only time will tell with Stadia, it’s pricing and its library.