Amazon has just revealed a new gaming service called Luna – but what’s it all about?
Luna is a cloud gaming service, which means you can play games on different devices like PC, TV and mobile phones without needing to buy a gaming console.
Amazon’s new offering is pretty similar to Google Stadia – another cloud-gaming service which was launched earlier this year – but with a few differences.
More than 100 games will be available to play on the service from launch, such as Two Point Hospital, Sonic Mania and Yooka-Laylee, and they’ve said that more are on their way.
So far there is no official release date or cost for the service in the UK, and the service is currently only available to try via an early access invitation for gamers in the US right now.
Check out our guide to the pros and cons of the Luna from what we know about it so far…
Twitch is integrated
If you enjoy watching your favourite streamers play games on Twitch, well the good news is Amazon actually owns Twitch, so the streaming platform is included in Luna from the start.
Having Twitch could also be good news for Luna in return as streamers on Twitch could help to promote it.
By comparison Google Stadia is linked to YouTube, so it’ll be an interesting battle to see which service gamers prefer.
Gaming publisher collabs
Amazon Luna has also announced that it will be teaming up with gaming publishers like Ubisoft, who will have a special channel on Luna.
This means players will have access to big new games, something that other streaming services have been criticised for not really having in the past.
However, this channel will likely mean an extra, more expensive fee on top of the monthly payments, but more on that later…
What’s interesting about Luna, is that you can use it on Apple devices, like iPhones and iPads.
Apple have some pretty complicated and strict rules about cloud gaming services on the App Store, so until now services like Google Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud have avoided it.
Luna have managed to find a clever workaround to this problem, which is that it is not a traditional iOS app and won’t appear in the Apple store.
This is because Luna is a progressive web app (PWA), which is a fancy name for a website that you can open and run separately from the rest of your web browser (like Safari). You can even have it appear on your home screen as an app icon.
It will be interesting to see how long it takes other gaming streaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft to follow suit.
It’s a data-guzzler
On their site Luna recommend that users have a high-speed internet connection of at least 10Mbps (megabits per second) – this jumps up to around 35Mbps if you want to play games in ultra HD 4K resolution.
In the UK the average internet speed is around: 64Mbps (according to research by Ofcom) but in more rural areas, and other parts of the world things are a bit slower.
Also if you’re gaming on the go without Wi-Fi you’d better watch out as it will chew through your data allowance pretty quickly.
Unlike streaming music or movies, cloud gaming can use up to 10GB per hour when streaming at 1080p resolution.
To combat this Luna recommend connecting to Wi-Fi when using mobile devices, to minimise how much data you use.
Limited to certain devices
Here is the current list of devices and internet browsers you’ll be able to use Luna on:
- PC (requires Windows 10 with support for DirectX 11)
- Mac (OSX 10.13+)
- FireTV devices (Fire TV Stick – 2nd gen, Fire TV Stick 4K, or Fire TV Cube – 2nd gen)
- Google Chrome web browser (version 83+) and and Safari web browser (iOS14) for iPhone and iPad.
Amazon have also said: “We are working to add support across more devices in the future.”
Prices and extra fees
So far Amazon Luna is only available on a early-access, invitation-only trial in the US.
From what we know about this, the early-access monthly subscription price for Luna+ (which allows you access to a library of games) costs $5.99 per month, that’s around £5.
However, as this is only a trial price, this will likely increase when the service is out of it’s trial period.
As well as this players can purchase the Luna controller, which costs $49.99 (£39), and this can’t be used on any other consoles. Players can however use an Xbox One, or PS4 controller, as well as a keyboard and mouse to play.
As we mentioned earlier, the addition of special gaming publisher channels like Ubisoft will likely cost an extra fee on top of Luna in order to use.
There is however, an argument that streaming services like this can be a cheaper alternative to buying expensive consoles and games – the new Xbox Series X and the PlayStation 5 will each set you back £450, for example.