Roughly 20 months after rumors first emerged of Amazon’s entry into the streaming-gaming space, the e-commerce giant and Twitch parent is today ready to officially unveil its plans. Next month, Amazon Luna will start extending early access invitations to players from the mainland United States who request them. The service will stream games running on Amazon Web Services servers to Fire TV, Windows, Mac, and iOS devices initially (with Android support coming weeks later).
That iOS support might be a bit surprising, given the onerous restrictions Apple has placed on streaming-gaming apps before they can be listed on the iOS App Store. But Amazon is getting around those restrictions by running Luna as a “progressive web application” that runs on iOS only in the Safari browser, without an App Store listing at all. That could impact the service’s visibility and ease of access to many iOS users, but it also eliminates the 30 percent revenue cut Apple demands from most App Store services.
“We worked with the Safari team to ensure that some of the things that weren’t there are there, and that allowed us to kind of get to where we are today,” Luna head of engineering and technology George Tsipolitis told Engadget.
In early access, the baseline Luna service will require a $5.99/month subscription to Luna+, a “channel” offering unlimited access to a “growing selection of games.” Engadget reports that Resident Evil 7, Control, Tacoma, Rez Infinite, Metro Exodus, The Sexy Brutale, and Overcooked! 2 will be among the games included with Luna+, though some of those will not be ready at launch. Amazon’s Luna landing page also currently shows icons for games such as Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Steamworld Dig 2, and Sonic Mania. There are no signs of an option to purchase games a la carte through Luna at this point.
Aside from Luna+, Amazon’s service will also offer a channel of Ubisoft titles for an unspecified price. This is likely an extension of Ubisoft’s existing UPlay+ service, which currently offers dozens of recent and classic titles from Ubisoft’s library for download or streaming through Stadia for $14.99 a month. All told, Amazon expects 100 titles to be available between the Luna+ and Ubisoft channels during the early beta period.
Luna will support Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s DualShock 4 controllers, as well as a standard mouse/keyboard on PC. But Amazon will also be offering subscribers a $50 Luna Controller that connects directly to the game servers via Wi-Fi (much like the similar Wi-Fi Stadia Controller). The Luna Controller’s direct connection will “reduce roundtrip latency by 17 to 30 milliseconds,” Amazon said, compared to a local Bluetooth controller.
Streaming will be limited to 1080p/60fps at first, Amazon says, with 4K support “coming soon.” Amazon recommends a minimum of 10Mbps for a smooth 1080p stream and says that quality level can consume up to 10GB/hr of bandwidth when playing. Amazon is also promising Twitch integration to allow players to “go from watching Twitch to instantly playing on Luna” (again, much like similar YouTube integration for Google’s Stadia streaming).
Amazon is launching Luna into a marketplace crowded with different streaming-gaming options. Besides Stadia, Microsoft now offers xCloud streaming as a free perk with its Xbox Game Pass subscription, and Sony has been offering PlayStation Now streaming for hundreds of PlayStation family games for years. For PC titles, GeForce Now, Parsec, and Shadow are just a few of the services letting you play games from Steam and other platforms via powerful cloud servers.
Listing image by Amazon