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Amazon launches game streaming service Luna

Amazon has become the latest major tech player to enter into the game streaming space with its new service Luna.

The product, which will initially launch in the US before an international rollout, was announced at the company’s 2020 hardware event. It is a new cloud gaming service which promises to utilise “the incredible scale and capability of Amazon Web Services (AWS)” to stream games without downloads and updates.

Amazon will also launch a new US$49.99 controller for the service which has Cloud Direct technology that features a multiple-antenna design that connects directly to the Luna servers. Amazon said that this leads to reductions of between 17 to 30 milliseconds when compared to using the controller via Bluetooth. As it is connected to the server rather than the device, users are able to seamlessly switch between devices without additional pairing.

Compatibility is where Luna looks to stand out against competitors like Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now and Microsoft’s newly launched xCloud. Along with Fire TV, PC and Mac devices, Luna will be available at launch on iPhone and iPad – something which has been a sticking point between game streaming services and Apple.

Amazon got around this by making Luna run as a web app inside a browser, meaning that it avoids the App Store altogether.

Few details have been announced about game ownership (i.e. whether users will be able to play previously purchased PC games via the service or if they will have to be bought again as is the case with Stadia), but Amazon did announce the Luna+ game channel. Luna+ will cost US$5.99 per month during early access, and this offers free access to a number of top titles including Control, Resident Evil 7 and A Plague Tale: Innocence. Luna+ subscribers will also be able to play on two devices simultaneously with resolutions of 4K and 60fps. Amazon has its own game studio, with the eagerly awaited massively multiplayer online game New World set to release next year. It is likely that these titles will find their way to Luna.

Amazon also said that there will be significant amounts of integration with its game streaming video platformTwitch. Users in Luna will see top Twitch streams for games in the service, and users on Twitch will instantly be able to start playing games on Luna.

Marc Whitten, VP, Amazon entertainment devices and services, said: “We created Luna to make it easy to play great games on the devices customers already own and love. It’s Day One for Luna – we are excited to work with gamers, streamers, and publishers like Ubisoft and Remedy Entertainment to build a great gaming experience for everyone.”

Chris Early, SVP of partnerships and revenue at Ubisoft, said: “We’re proud to be working alongside Amazon on Luna, utilizing the power of cloud gaming to provide our players with another way to access our games, wherever they are. Ubisoft’s channel on Luna will allow players to experience our new releases along with many of our catalog games, while enjoying player-friendly features like Alexa and Twitch integrations.”