Amazon proves us forecasters right

Luna, new cloud gaming service announced

Jon Peddie

We and about two dozen other clever organizations have been predicting Amazon would get into the cloud gaming service and when they did, probably kick everyone’s butt. Luna is Amazon’s play anywhere, on (pretty much) any internet-enabled screen new service. The service will be available on Amazon Fire TV (Fire TV Stick – 2nd gen, Fire TV Stick 4K, or Fire TV Cube – 2nd gen), PC (requires Windows 10 with support for DirectX 11), and iOS devices—with availability on Android planned for a later date. Additionally one can use a Chrome web browser (version 83+) for PC and Mac, or Safari web browser (iOS14) for iPhone and iPad. Not only that, Luna will allow games to be played on up to two devices simultaneously on a single subscription—just like a console—no one else has that capability yet.

Amazon said at their annual hardware event that games on the platform will be available at 1080p and run at 60fpps. 4K is coming soon for select titles. Several popular titles are already planned such as the ever-popular Resident Evil 7, the mind-boggling Control by Remedy, the Russia doomsday game Metro Exodus, as well as family games like Plague Tale. The company says even more games will be available over time, and to ensure that, Amazon is making it easy for developers can get their titles onto the platform. Luna will run Windows games on an Amazon Web Services EC2 G4 instance with Nvidia T4 GPU snd Intel’s Cascade Lake CPUs.

But wait—there’s more. Amazon is setting up a dedicated game channel for Ubisoft. That’s because Ubisoft, like some other publishers, requires gamers to have a Uplay subscription. But Ubi will allow users to play through both the publisher’s back catalog, as well as upcoming games such as Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Far Cry 6, and Immortals: Fenyx Rising. 

Amazon will offer Luna with an inclusive subscription model at an introductory price of $5.99 a month during its early access period. At that time, users will be able to access a library of 100+ games. Twitch will also be part of the deal.

Luna is supported across mainland US but  Hawaii, Alaska, and U.S. territories are not yet included. The launch date hasn’t been announced yet, but it will surely have a big backlog of anxious customers when it is. Currently, early access to Luna is available exclusively by invitation.

The minimum recommended internet connection speed for streaming games is 10 Mbps (35 Mbps required to play in 4K). Unlike streaming movies or music, cloud gaming can consume up to 10GB/hr at 1080p.

A wireless game controller connects directly to the internet and supports 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz (Amazon recommend 5 GHz for an improved gaming experience).

Luna Controller supports Bluetooth and USB for offline play on many devices. However, the Luna controller is not licensed for play on game consoles.

What do we think?

We would prefer the controller connected to a portal device like Echo—Alexia—shoot that zombie. No, the one on the left…

This is going to be a big deal, the biggest deal in terms of subscribers—and they beat Netflix to it. When we and others talk about on-line streaming gaming, the term “the Netflix of gaming,” is frequently used. Well, Amazon beat them to it.

Netflix is the biggest on-demand streaming video service in the U.S. and internationally with 192 million subscribers worldwide. The second most popular is Amazon Prime Video because so many people shop there. Therefore, for Amazon to beat Netflix to the market could be (excuse us) a game-changer. Google’s Stadia, according to Sensor Tower, racked up one million subscribers in April. So that sets the benchmark for Amazon, and Netflix for that matter when and if they join. It’s significantly more than Nvidia’s GeForce Now. Sony reported had 700,000 subscribers in April. Luna’s Windows-based servers differ from Stadia's servers which use Linux and Vulkan's open-source graphics. That adds some development cost to porting a game in Stadia.

How much these services are cannibalistic vs market expansion is yet to be seen, and we probably won’t know for another year after the new consoles have been on the market a while.