(Pocket-lint) - One of the biggest announcements during Amazon's September devices event was the launch of Luna - the company's own cloud gaming service.
Taking on the likes of Stadia, Cloud Gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and GeForce Now, Amazon Luna is in early access and US-exclusive initially, but will expand and, undoubtedly, roll out to other regions in time.
Here then is everything you need to know about Luna, including its price, games list and supported devices.
What is Amazon Luna?
That means that you can play a growing library of games over the internet, with games running on remote servers (using Amazon AWS cloud technology) and video of your gameplay streamed to a supported device. In return, your button and direction presses go in the opposite direction and are read and acted upon by the source.
In all respects, it is like playing a game directly on your device, but you don't have to download it first - just the Luna app or web portal (on iOS).
Latency, which is often the biggest caveat of cloud gaming, is reduced significantly by games played using a dedicated Amazon Luna Controller which connects directly to the internet rather than your device - much like the Stadia Controller.
Also, as Amazon own one of the world's biggest server networks, the distance between your home and closest server point is short enough to ensure that lag is kept to a minimum.
How does Amazon Luna work?
Unlike Stadia or GeForce Now, you do not need to purchase games individually with Luna - at the present time, anyway. A Luna+ monthly subscription enables you to play any of the games available in the library, which includes titles from the likes of Capcom, 505 Games and Team 17.
There will also be "channels" available in future, much like the additional paid services available through Amazon Prime Video. The first to be announced is an Ubisoft channel that will give you access to new and favourite titles from the publisher for an additional fee.
Essentially, Luna+ is more the long-pined for "Netflix of games" (or, more accurately, "Amazon Prime Video of games") than the others already available.
Amazon Luna price and how to get it
At present, Luna is only available in the US, and restricted to invited members while it is in "early access". You can request an invite through the dedicated website here: amazon.com/luna.
As the service is still in the testing phase, you could find a few bugs, performance issues and/or reduced games list, but the price for a Luna+ subscription reflects that. It costs $5.99 per month.
For that, you get unlimited play time, up to 1080p/60 streaming, and the ability to play on two devices at a time. 4K streaming is coming to the service "soon".
There is no pricing information for the Ubisoft channel as yet. When it does launch properly, it'll offer old and new Ubisoft titles with all the downloadable content and expansions included with certain games. It too will stream at 1080p/60 to start with but will be restricted to one device at a time.
What devices work with Luna?
As well as a dedicated Amazon Luna Controller, you can use an Xbox One Wireless Controller, PlayStation DualShock 4 or mouse and keyboard to play Luna games. However, all but the Luna Controller may add additional latency unless connected by cable.
Luna games can be streamed to the following devices:
- Amazon Fire TV Cube - 2nd gen
- Amazon Fire TV Stick - 2nd gen
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
- iPhone (through Safari - with iOS 14)
- iPad (through Safari - with iPadOS 14)
- Mac (macOS 10.13 and above)
- PC (Windows 10 with DirectX 11)
Android support is coming soon.
Luna on Mac and PC can also run through the Chrome browser (v83 and above).
Rival platforms have struggled to get Apple to approve their cloud gaming services in the past, but Amazon seems to have figured out a workaround for iOS and iPadOS - you will be able to play Luna games through Safari on iPhone and iPad as long as iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 is installed respectively.
The Amazon Luna Controller
Amazon has designed a dedicated controller to play Luna games with.
It looks very similar to an Xbox One Wireless Controller, especially with its central button and thumbstick placements. However, rather than connect to a specific device, it connects straight to the internet via your wireless home network.
There are two advantages to this. First, as it doesn't need to be paired to any specific device, you can just pick up and use it as soon as you launch Luna anywhere. And second, the direct connection reduces latency by not having to pass control codes through a device first - it cuts out the middle-man, so to speak.
Amazon claims that this reduces latency by between 17 and 30 milliseconds - a massive amount for accurate gaming response.
As well as the usual buttons to start games and access menus, etc, the Luna Controll has a mic button for Alexa - this is an Amazon product after all. You can therefore start games on a Fire TV with just your voice, as well as use other assistant-enabled commands.
It uses two AA batteries and can even be used as a regular Bluetooth controller when not playing Luna games.
The Amazon Luna Controller costs $49.99 while the service is in early access (rising to $60.99 when launched in full).
What broadband speeds do you need to run Amazon Luna?
At launch, Amazon Luna will stream games in a maximum of 1080p/60 but there are plans to increase that to 4K (on supported devices) in future.
Amazon recommends a minimum broadband speed of 10Mbps, rising to a minimum of 35Mbps when 4K streaming becomes available.
It is worth also noting that a game stream takes up a lot more bandwidth than a TV show or film, so if you are on a limited data internet package you should be aware that games could use up to 10GB of your data allowance per hour (at 1080p). More for 4K gaming. That applies for mobile data and home broadband, unless you have an unlimited plan.
Amazon Luna games list
Not all games for Amazon Luna have been announced yet, but here are those confirmed to be on early access so far.
Amazon claims that there will be more than 100 games available on the platform in total at full launch.
- A Plague Tale: Innocence
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
- Panzer Dragoon: Remake
- Resident Evil 7 biohazard
- The Surge 2
- Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair
We'll update this list as more titles are confimed. Ubisoft games - including Assassin's Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6, Immortals Fenyx Rising and Watch Dogs: Legion - will be available as part of the Ubisoft channel when it launches.
Amazon Luna and Twitch streaming
One of the interesting, unique features on Luna is that it will have deep Twitch integration - obviously really, considering Twitch is owned by Amazon.
Players will be able to start Luna games from inside Twitch, while respective Twitch streams will be available to view from each games' Luna hub page.