Amazon announces Luna, a new cloud-gaming service

Amazon has revealed a new cloud-gaming service, Luna. The service will be available on Amazon Fire TV, PC and iOS devices – with availability on Android planned for a later date.

Announced during the company’s annual hardware event, Luna seems as if it may already have an edge over its competitors – particularly Google’s Stadia.

First, Luna offers an all-inclusive subscription model, where for $5.99 USD a month (under the “introductory” price during its early access) users can access its library of 100+ games. Stadia on the other hand, offers a rotating selection of free games as part of its subscription service (akin to Playstation Plus’ offerings) while the rest of its library is sold individually.

Second, as confirmed by VentureBeat’s Jeff Grub on Twitter, Luna runs on a Windows environment – to get their games onto Luna, developers just need to set up their Windows x86 games on Amazon Web Services. This is a clear advantage over the Linux-based Stadia, which requires additional work and testing, making Luna potentially a much more attractive option for developers.

Third, it seems that Amazon have found a loophole to get Luna onto iOS, something that has a roadblock to Microsoft’s efforts with xCloud. Apple has famously refused to allow Microsoft’s streaming app onto Apple devices. However, Luna is a progressive web application (PWA), meaning that it can be run from a web browser on Apple devices, eliminating the need for the App Store. Additionally, by circumventing the App Store, it is possible that Amazon are not required to pay Apple the 30 per cent cut that ultimately led to its showdown with Epic Games. Though Amazon and Apple have an existing sweetheart deal that allows Amazon to sell media directly on the App Store without the 30 per cent cut, so the exact nature of this arrangement is unclear.

Games on the platform will be available at 4K/60fpps, and will feature a host of titles, including popular games such as Control, Plague Tale: Innocence and Resident Evil 7. Amazon promises more games will be available over time (particularly given the ease with which developers can get their titles onto the platform), and Luna will allow games to be played on up to two devices simultaneously on a single subscription.

Amazon has also partnered with Ubisoft to give the publisher its own dedicated gaming channel. It seems as if Ubisoft’s channel will require its own subscription, and will allow users to play through both the publisher’s back catalogue, as well as upcoming games such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6, and Immortals Fenyx Rising on the day of release.

Twitch will also be integral to the platform, and subscribers will be able to watch streams from within the Luna service, or launch into Luna games directly from Twitch.

Much like Stadia’s controller, the Alexa-enabled Luna controller will connect directly to the cloud to ensure minimal latency for reductions of between 17 to 30 milliseconds compared to a standard bluetooth controller.

There’s no word yet on when Luna will be available, but users in the US can request an invitation into the testing phase.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is a freelancer writer and was MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer from November 2019 until May 2022. He joined the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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