Cloud gaming is not a new idea — companies have been trying and failing to make streaming game experiences stick for a decade, but it seems like we’re finally reaching critical mass. Amazon has joined the likes of Microsoft and Google to announce its own cloud gaming service called Luna. It will cost just $5.99 per month during the testing phase, but we don’t know what Amazon has in store for the full launch.
All the games in Luna will render in the cloud, and the video will stream down to your devices. Luna will, naturally, rely on Amazon’s AWS web platform to deliver games with low latency. Like Google’s Stadia service, Luna has a custom $50 controller that connects directly to Wi-Fi. That means the inputs go straight up to the cloud service rather than bouncing through a local device first. Amazon says this cuts about 20ms of latency all by itself. The controller itself is the spitting image of the Xbox controller, but it has an extra button in the middle to call up Alexa. The service works with other controllers, but Amazon recommends its hardware for the best experience. The service will also have deep integration with Twitch.
Amazon hasn’t decided on a launch date, but early access starts today. Anyone in the US who wants to give it a shot can get in line via the Luna site. Your $6 gets you access to the Luna+ channel, which has more than 100 games like Control, GRID, and Panzer Dragoon. That’s just the first of multiple Luna channels. For example, Amazon promises a Ubisoft game channel in the near future, but pricing is unknown at this time.
Luna will support streaming games on two devices simultaneously, and “select” titles in the Luna+ channel will support 4K60 streams. Although, the initial details on that Ubisoft channel list just one stream at a time. That suggests Amazon plans to give publishers a lot of power over how other game channels operate. If Amazon continues with this “all you can stream” approach, it could start to make Google Stadia look rather old-fashioned with its individual game purchases.
Luna will start out on PC, Mac, Fire TV, and iPhone/iPad. That last one may be a surprise considering Apple’s animosity toward cloud gaming. However, Amazon is getting around that with a web app. An Android client will arrive at some point after the launch. If you want to give Luna a shot, you’ll need just 10Mbps down on your home connection for 1080p or 35Mbps for 4K.