Amazon presented fresh hardware news as well as a new gaming service. Amazon Luna should be available on all current devices thanks to streaming from the cloud.
With Amazon Luna, a new player is entering the gaming arena and will be competing with offerings such as Microsoft’s xCloud and Google Stadia. The service will be launched initially only in the USA. Starting in October, the first users there will be able to participate in the test phase at a subscription price of around six US dollars per month. Amazon’s statements indicate that this base price will change after the beta phase. However, more precise details have not yet been provided.
Amazon Luna: Android support is delayed
Matching the service, Amazon also introduced a gamepad that can be used to control the games streamed to the screen. As Engadget found out when talking to Amazon, the service will initially start on Fire TV, PC, Mac, and iOS devices; yes, this means support for iPhone and iPad.
The missing availability on Android is somewhat surprising. According to Luna boss Marc Whitten, the corresponding version for Google’s operating system will follow a few «weeks» after the launch in October. But no concrete reason for the delay is given.
Amazon does however not rely on a native app on iPhone and iPad. The games will therefore not be available in the App Store. Instead, Amazon has collaborated with Apple’s Safari team to offer the games in the form of a so-called Progressive Web Application, or PWA for short.
The games use the browser instead of appearing as an app in the App Store. This is to avoid problems with Apple’s requirements for game streaming apps. These currently prevent Microsoft from offering its own streaming service on iOS. Apple currently requires that each game be listed as a separate app in the App Store so that it can be checked.
It is currently unclear whether Amazon will permanently rely on PWA. The company hopes to be able to offer native apps in the future. Apple is currently continuing to review the rules, so that it is not possible to give more precise details at this time.
Amazon Luna: Channels give access to more games
For the price of 5.99 US dollars, players will get access to the basic package Luna+. This already includes a number of game titles, such as Resident Evil 7, Control, Tacoma, Rez Infinite, Metro Exodus, The Sexy Brutale, and Overcooked! 2. On the first day, however, not all of these titles will be available.
For access to further games, Luna provides so-called channels, which users will be able to use at previously unknown prices. The first channel will be from Ubisoft and will contain a «wide selection» of the publisher’s titles. This includes games such as Far Cry 6, Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, and Immortals Fenyx Rising.
Amazon hopes to offer a total of about 100 titles during the beta phase. The channel idea is based on Amazon’s Prime Video, where you can also get access to additional channels for an additional fee. It is also conceivable to have channels that are aimed at one genre.
Amazon Luna: 4K-Gaming is on the todo list
The company is already planning a 4K future for the streaming service at 60 fps. In the beginning, however, gamers will have to settle for 1080p and 60 frames per second. Amazon recommends a minimum internet speed of 10 Mbps here – for 4K, 35 Mbps is the recommendation.
The video and streaming service Twitch, which also belongs to Amazon, will also be integrated. Streams or videos from Twitch will be displayed alongside the respective games in Luna.
Engadget was also allowed to test the gaming experience. This included a game stream of Control. The title was playable fluently on a Fire TV, for the most part, only the starting scenes were a bit jerky. Overall these didn’t influence the game.
A feature of Luna is the smooth transition from one device to another. For example, you can start a game on Fire TV and continue it at the very same place on Mac or iOS by clicking on a link. This function is said to have worked without any problems.
Luna also supports two simultaneous players per account by default.
Amazon Luna: controller communicates directly with the cloud
Matching the streaming service, Amazon showed its own controller, which will be available in the beta phase for about 50 US dollars. This controller will communicate directly with the cloud in order to minimize possible delays. According to Engadget, the name of the associated software is Cloud Direct. Amazon says this latency is 20 to 30 milliseconds. But Luna will also support classic Bluetooth controllers.
Thanks to Cloud Direct, Amazon’s controller does not need to be manually reconnected every time a device is changed. Instead, the gamepad follows the game rather than the screen you’re using and automatically connects to the device in use. Thanks to Alexa integration, games can also be started via voice control.
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