If you want to stream video games in the year 2020, you’ve got plenty of services to choose from: Google Stadia, PlayStation Now, Microsoft’s xCloud and even Nvidia’s often-forgotten GeForce Now.
It does seem that cloud gaming is where the industry is eventually headed, even though ISP data caps haven’t exactly caught up with the emerging technology. But is there room for even more competitors at this point? Amazon seems to think so.
Earlier today at its big reveal event, the online retail giant announced (among several other gadgets) a brand new game streaming service called Luna. You can hop over to the main product page on Amazon to request an invitation for early access, which for now, is being rolled out on an invite-only basis.
It seems that while Luna refers to the service itself, what you pay for are essentially gaming “channels”. Luna+ is the first one available and appears to be similar to something like Xbox Game Pass, in that you have access to a growing (and possibly changing) library of titles for streaming. No downloads here, though.
It’s hard to tell what specific games will be a part of Luna+, other than the expected third party indie fare. The website mentions publishers like 505 Games and Capcom, so we’ll see.
Luna+ is $5.99 a month in early access and will supposedly get more expensive in the future. On that note, there’s an Ubisoft channel “coming soon” that will feature a catalog of the publishers games, both old and new. I suppose in this way, you’re paying for your game access à la carte, which could get pricey if you keep adding channels.
Then there’s the official Luna controller ($49.99) which can be purchased separately. It looks how you’d expect it to and sports something called Cloud Direct technology, which allows the controller to connect directly to Amazon’s servers in an attempt to reduce latency. It also supports Alexa for voice commands, as well as Bluetooth and USB for use with other hardware. And you don’t need to use the Luna gamepad; Xbox One and PS4 controllers will work just fine.
So what hardware can you play Luna on? Fire TV devices, PC and Mac. You can also play on Chrome and Safari web browsers. The compatibility is already better in this regard than xCloud, which doesn’t yet work on iOS devices. Game streaming is supported at up to 1080p for most titles and up to 4K for select games. Additionally, there’s native Twitch integration.
That’s the absolute basics of Luna, and I’m sure we’ll learn more as early access begins moving out into the masses. Will the gaming public adopt yet another game streaming service, especially when we’ve seen large-scale flops like Stadia, which launched to not only little fanfare, but outright derision?
Streaming is definitely the future of gaming, but the jury is still out on how many of these platforms the average gamer is willing to stomach. Unless Amazon has some really special exclusives up its sleeves, I’ll remain skeptical.