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Amazon unveils new cloud gaming service Luna

Luna is ‘designed for instant play’ on a variety of devices

Amazon’s Luna controller in front of a television and other devices Image: Amazon
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Amazon is throwing its hat into the cloud gaming ring with Luna, a new game streaming technology that’s coming to PCs, mobile devices, and Amazon’s own Fire TV hardware. Starting today, customers in the U.S. can request an invitation for early access to Luna, Amazon announced at its devices event on Thursday.

Luna will be playable on Fire TV, Mac, and Windows PC, and on Android and iOS mobile devices. Amazon specifies that iOS platforms will access Luna “through web apps,” seemingly the company’s solution to Apple’s prohibitive rules for cloud-based game streaming via the App Store.

Amazon will offer subscriptions to “game channels” through Luna, one of which is called Luna Plus that will feature games such as Resident Evil 7, Control, Panzer Dragoon, A Plague Tale: Innocence, The Surge 2, Yooka-Laylee and The Impossible Lair, Iconoclasts, Grid, Abzu, and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. More titles will be added over time, Amazon said in a news release.

The Luna interface, showing a variety of games with Sonic Mania artwork in the background
Amazon’s Luna user interface
Image: Amazon

Luna Plus will cost $5.99 per month during Amazon’s early access period, and the company promises that subscribers can play on two devices simultaneously, with 4K resolution and 60 fps refresh rates “for select titles.”

Amazon is also partnering with Ubisoft to create a gaming channel specific to that publisher. Subscribers will get “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.” Amazon says Ubisoft’s Luna channel is one of multiple channels in development that will let players access games by publisher and genre.

Luna also connects to another Amazon-owned service: Twitch. In a feature that sounds similar to Google Stadia’s integration with YouTube, Luna users will be able to jump into games directly from Twitch streams.

Image: Amazon

Games can be played through Luna using keyboard and mouse, a Bluetooth game controller, and Amazon’s own Luna controller. Luna will also support the Xbox One controller and DualShock 4 controller. The Luna controller, which will be available for an introductory price of $49.99, “connects directly to the cloud to effortlessly control your game, featuring a multiple-antenna design that prioritizes un-interrupted wifi for lower latency gaming.”

Amazon said its 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.”

Luna will be powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS) technology. International availability of the service was not announced.

Amazon’s take on cloud gaming sounds similar, if not nearly identical to Google’s take with Stadia, with the major exception of Luna’s game channels, which will let users subscribe instead of purchasing individual games or paying for a “Pro” tier of streaming quality.