Amazon announces new cloud gaming service called Luna

At its 2020 hardware event today, Amazon announced a cloud gaming platform called Luna. The news isn’t too surprising: the service has been rumored since last year, previously codenamed “Tempo,” while an Amazon-made game controller leaked out just ahead of today’s event.

It’s not clear when Luna will launch widely, but it will initially be available on PC, Mac, Fire TV, and iPhone and iPad (via web apps), with an Android version planned for after launch. Amazon says that interested users in the US can request early access to the service starting today. There’s no word on international availability.

The service will be available for an “introductory price” of $5.99 a month during its early access phase, which gives subscribers the ability to play Luna Plus channel games across two devices simultaneously and offers 4K / 60fps resolution for “select titles.” Naturally, it will be powered by AWS, Amazon’s ubiquitous web platform.

Amazon says more than 100 games will be available via the Luna Plus channel, and launch titles include Resident Evil 7, Control, Panzer Dragoon, A Plague Tale: Innocence, The Surge 2, Yooka-Laylee, GRID, Abzu, and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Amazon says more titles will be added “over time.” The company has also partnered with Ubisoft for a specific “gaming channel.” Here’s how Amazon describes it:

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.
Image: Amazon

Luna will also feature Twitch integration. “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,” Amazon says. Games can be played either with a mouse and keyboard or a Bluetooth controller. To go along with this, Amazon also announced its own Alexa-enabled Luna Controller, which will cost $49.99 during the early access period.

Here’s how it works:

Luna Controller is Alexa-enabled and connects directly to the cloud to effortlessly control your game, featuring a multiple-antenna design that prioritizes un-interrupted Wi-Fi for lower latency gaming. In fact, 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.

Amazon has had a curious relationship with gaming over the years, dabbling in various different businesses. In addition to owning the streaming service Twitch, Amazon also develops its own games, including the online shooter Crucible, which had such a poor launch it quickly went back into closed beta. The company is also working on a massively multiplayer game called New World, which was originally slated to debut this summer before being delayed to 2021.

Today’s news puts Amazon in direct competition with both Google Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud in the increasingly crowded cloud gaming space.

Comments

While I’m not too excited for this compared to xCloud, supporting Fire TV might be the game changer.

That controller looks like a knock-off controller for a system you buy on Wish.

Does it work like Stadia where you have to buy most titles or is it a Netflix kind of Service like xCloud?

If you read the article it said it’s $5.99/month for access to 100s of titles at launch

That $5.99 price is the "early access" price. I bet you that they will jack up the price once they take the service out of "early access".

Undoubtedly, but this has a strong smell of DOA on it. I’ll be watching this develop but I get Stadia vibes & I called that flop on day 1. Amazon does have the advantage of being the largest store in the world so their ability to leverage that to move units is not to be dismissed.

Stadia is still going and growing. The community at https://www.reddit.com/r/stadia is really fun.

The Wii U had a strong community online too.. It also had a ton of great games.. They moved 14 million consoles about 2.8 million consoles a year.. As of March, Stadia has under 700K people who have downloaded the Stadia App.. If that equated to sales of the actual service, it’d still be significantly lower than one of the worst selling consoles of all time, and it doesn’t..

A group of passionate people can love a DOA product.

I don’t disagree with you that the deck is certainly stacked against Stadia, but I wonder if the comparison to the economics of the traditional console business is really apples to apples.

Stadia doesn’t have to manufacture, market and distribute a console at a loss, which is a massive investment of time, capital and effort. I think they could run at a fraction of the cost of what a traditional console provider would need. If they had 700k paying subscribers I bet they would consider that quite a success. I doubt they have anywhere near that and I wonder if Google has the stomach to invest hundreds of millions over years to grind out a spot in the industry.

Its a shame because the service works really well, and more competition in the industry isn’t a bad thing at all.

700K is just iOS I guess? It’s somewhere between 1Million and 5Million android downloads.

Stadia does have to manufacture those server blades with hardware. It isn’t that different to a console, except the company is manufacturing for themselves.

700k paying subscribers is 7m/month. This is NOT success. Most of the money goes to game companies in the first place, and even full 7m probably doesn’t cover salaries of people working on the projects (hardware side + game studios), forget about recouping investment to hardware and development of hardware.

Game streaming requires a lot of subscribers to be viable. Running it is much more expensive than movies and music because of all the hardware you need to run these games.
I guess even MS’s 15m users is not profitable.

The free tier became available April 8th of this year, so March user numbers are obviously not going to reflect anything beyond the enthusiasts that bought in early. I don’t know if there’s more up-to-date numbers anywhere, but Destiny saw a large (400%) jump in users by the end of April: https://9to5google.com/2020/04/21/destiny-2-google-stadia-free-trial-player-count/ Basically it feels premature to label it DOA.

I think a lot of people have an issue with Google seeming to selectively 100% back their products and services. Things get pushed out before they seem ready for primetime. With Stadia I just got the gut feeling like their heart wasn’t in it – nothing felt compelling about it. Time will tell and more competition normally helps with these things.

I was really into Google+ back in the day… passionate fans unfortunately can’t necessarily keep a service alive.

You dont need the app to play on your computer. also there are about 6 million downloads across ios and android… this doesnt include pc and chomebooks and macos.

Stadia has been objectively pretty darned good. Its not perfect, but its slight hiccups here or there are not enough to completely frustrate me and just fire up Steam.

My biggest gripe with Stadia is that the graphic fidelity is pretty meh—and I’m on a 300Mbps connection. Its basically PS4 graphics at best. Still, the barrier to entry is next to nothing and the gameplay seems quite good.

Don’t forget, this is being paired with Twitch. I can see this taking off better than Stadia.

Yeah, the Twitch hook seems a lot more compelling than the YouTube one, especially given all the blowback YouTube has been getting from content creators this year.

Exactly, just like Microsoft did with Xbox Game Pass for PC and Netflix a long time ago. That’s how they get this huge amount of subscribers. Offer it for a pretty fair price and jack the price up little by little every now and then.

That doesn’t specify whether new releases like the Ubisoft ones listed later are included in that 100s number.

I’d be extremely surprised if they were

The Ubisoft games will also require a separate subscription.

That’s how I read that.. special Ubisoft Channel = add-on package to your subscription to get the Ubisoft games.

Yep. Ubisoft already has an "all-you-can-eat" subscription. Can’t remember the price, but it’s not cheap. Like $9.99 or $12.99 a month for access to their entire library as long as you’re a subscriber.

Not terrible if you manage it right. But at that price, you better be playing a lot of Ubisoft games if you’re keeping that sub active long term.

I just hate the idea of having to pay for separate publisher "channels" on top of the base Luna tier just to play everything. Xbox Game Pass is the best value because it gives you everything (console, PC, streaming) for a flat fee of $15 a month.

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