Amazon is finally joining the cloud game streaming space with its new service – Luna. The new service will be available on PC, Mac, mobile, tablets, and even on Amazon Fire. Interested gamers in the US can now register for early access, with plans starting at $5.99/month. The game streaming service will be powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS).
“Introducing Luna, Amazon’s cloud gaming service where it’s easy to play great games on devices you already own. No waiting for lengthy downloads or updates — just play.”
Introducing the Luna Controller – Built For Cloud Gaming
Amazon also unveiled a new controller built for the service called, well, the Luna controller. It has the standard Xbox controller layout, but with different colour accents and a couple of extra buttons. The Luna controller will cost $49.99 during the early access period.
The Luna controller also has direct integration with Amazon Alexa, which makes sense. Similar to the Google Stadia controller, the Luna controller connects directly to the cloud to reduce input latency while game streaming.
“Our testing showed a reduction in roundtrip latency when playing Luna Controller with Cloud Direct vs. Luna Controller via Bluetooth, with reductions of between 17 to 30 milliseconds among PC, Fire TV, and Mac. Because the Luna Controller connects directly to cloud servers, players can easily switch between screens — such as Fire TV to mobile phone — without additional pairing or configuration changes.”
Unsurprisingly, Luna will also integrate with Amazon-owned Twitch live-streaming service, offering viewers the ability to directly launch a game from within a Livestream. This feature is quite similar to what Google Stadia offered, albeit never coming to fruition.
“Inside the Luna experience, players will see Twitch streams for games in the service, and from Twitch, they’ll be able to instantly start playing Luna games.”
Luna Channels – Luna+ and Ubisoft Enter The Field
When you sign up for Amazon Luna, you’ll be given the choice of joining either of 2 channels – Luna+ and a specialized Ubisoft channel.
Under Luna+ ($5.99/month) you’ll be able to play “a growing library of games” at 1080p 60 FPS, with 4K game streaming added after launch. You can stream on 2 devices at a time, without any limit on hours of play. This will include “more than a 100 games”, including titles from Capcom, 505 Games, and Team 17.
As for the Ubisoft channel, Amazon has partnered with the developer to provide “ultimate editions of (Ubisoft) games with DLC for select titles”. Amazon describes the Ubisoft channel as follows:
Players who subscribe to this channel will have access to their favorite Ubisoft titles in up to 4K resolution, mobile gameplay, and access to new titles when the channel launches like Assassins Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6, and Immortals Fenyx Rising the same day they release. This is the first of multiple Luna game channels in development, where customers can play games from their favorite publishers and genres.
What Luna Means For Game Streaming Going Forward
Amazon’s game streaming service has been in the works for quite a long time. The company launched Amazon Game Studios last year with its first game Crucible which launched, and fell on its face, earlier this year.
Cloud gaming may be the future (and safer), but no service promising it has been able to land on its feet yet. Google Stadia, while still active, is still struggling to find a player base with its incomplete (and broken) feature set. The only somewhat strong player in the field is xCloud, which is Xbox’s game streaming service bundled with Xbox Game Pass, arguably the best deal in gaming right now. Reception to xCloud has been relatively positive.
It remains to be seen how Amazon’s efforts in the cloud game streaming space are rewarded, but if past efforts are anything to go by, it’s still a great concept that is hindered by the technology of today.