Sunday, October 25, 2020

Amazon Luna: Everything you need to know about Amazon’s cloud gaming service

 Cloud gaming might still be in its infancy, but major companies aren’t shying away from investing early in the future of gaming. Amazon Luna is the latest platform to join the fray, and with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Twitch behind it, Luna could very well take the cloud gaming crown.

After rumors were swirling for well over a year, Luna was officially announced in September of 2020, and is now entering early access for a limited number of users. Whether you want to get in early or just learn what the future may hold, here’s everything you need to know about Amazon Luna.

 Amazon Luna is a cloud gaming platform powered by Amazon’s ubiquitous cloud computing platform AWS. Like other cloud gaming platforms, it allows consumers to stream games instantly to a number of devices. This eliminates the need for downloads, updates, or even local storage, but requires a high-speed internet connection. Amazon recommends speeds of at least 10Mbps for 1080p streaming, or 35Mbps for 4K when it becomes available.

Currently Luna supports Fire TV, PC, and Mac devices, as well as iPhones and iPads via web apps. An Android version is expected soon, but no official news on this yet.

Like Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming platform, Luna includes a Netflix-of-games style catalog of games under a monthly subscription fee. And like Amazon Prime Video, it also offers channels that unlock more content from a specific publisher for an extra monthly fee. Currently the only channel (apart from the basic Luna Plus channel) is the Ubisoft channel, but it isn’t yet available for early access users.Amazon Luna currently has an early access price of $5.99 a month. This subscription includes unlimited access to a growing catalog of games and 1080p/60fps streaming on two devices simultaneously. 4K quality is “coming soon” for select titles, but no exact date is listed.

Channels are available for an additional fee, but this fee is not yet specified. The Ubisoft channel includes the same 1080p/60 quality and unlimited gameplay, but only for one device. However, it features the ultimate edition of each game, with DLC unlocked for certain titles.

Note that the pricing above is only for the early access program. Expect the service to cost significantly more at launch (unless bundled with an Amazon Prime subscription). The company will send a notification 30 days before the pricing changes, but be aware that this is just an introductory price.

Credit: Amazon

If you want to get the most out of a Luna subscription, you’ll also want to pick up an Amazon Luna controller. Amazon claims that using the official controller can reduce latency by 17 to 30 milliseconds when compared to standard bluetooth controllers, which is huge for competitive multiplayer titles.

It does this by connecting directly to Amazon’s servers with a built-in WiFi receiver with support for both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz networks. This removes the middleman of your local PC or streaming device. Wired gameplay is also available with a USB-C cable, which unfortunately isn’t included in the box.

As for the controller’s design, it closely matches the layout of the hugely popular Xbox controller. It features a textured grip and the standard layout: four action buttons, two offset joysticks, a d-pad, two bumpers, and two triggers. There are also four buttons in the center for home, action, menu, and microphone control. On the bottom of the controller there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired audio.

The controller is powered by two replaceable AA batteries, which are included in the box. You need to use the Luna Controller mobile app to set it up, but once completed you can switch between devices freely.

The Amazon Luna controller costs $49.99 on its own, or $59.98 when bundled with a phone clip. However, it’s only available for those who have already been accepted into the early access program. Click the button below to learn more.

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