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Amazon Luna: Everything you need to know about Amazon's cloud gaming service

Will Amazon Luna be the cloud gaming service to end them all?
By
November 13, 2021
amazon luna game streaming service
Amazon

Cloud gaming might still be in its infancy, but major companies aren’t shying away from investing early in the future of gaming. Amazon Luna is the latest platform to join the fray, and with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Twitch behind it, Luna could very well take the cloud gaming crown.

After over a year of rumors, Luna was officially announced in September of 2020 and is now in early access for a limited number of users. Get in early by clicking the button below or keep reading to learn everything you need to know about Amazon Luna.

What is Amazon Luna?

Amazon Luna is a cloud gaming platform powered by Amazon’s ubiquitous cloud computing platform Amazon Web Services (AWS). Like other cloud gaming platforms, it allows consumers to stream games instantly to a number of devices. This eliminates the need for downloads, updates, or even local storage, but requires a high-speed internet connection.

Like Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming platform, Luna includes a Netflix-of-games style catalog of games under a monthly subscription fee as part of Luna Plus. And like Amazon Prime Video, it also offers channels that unlock more content from a specific publisher for an extra monthly fee. Currently, the only extra channels (apart from the basic Luna Plus channel) are Ubisoft Plus and a family-oriented channel, but expect more to be added in the coming months.

Although Amazon Luna doesn’t require any specific hardware, the company released a dedicated controller for the service. Similar to a Google Stadia controller, it has a built-in Wi-Fi receiver to eliminate the middleman and reduce input latency. In online games where a few milliseconds are the difference between life and death, it’s a worthwhile purchase.

Unlike other cloud gaming services, Luna offers a kind of couch co-op experience in the cloud called Luna Couch. As long as the host is a paying subscriber, non-paying players are able to join their game and play along.

Is Amazon Luna worth it?

Amazon Luna logo

Since it’s still in early access, it’s hard to say whether or not Amazon Luna is worth it at the moment. While it does look to be an attractive alternative to Xbox Cloud Gaming or Google Stadia, there are still a lot of unknowns that might give gamers pause.

Chief among those concerns is price. While the service is certainly worth the low $5.99 price tag at the moment, Amazon has made it abundantly clear that this pricing is only for the early access period. It could very well double once the service comes to the mass market.

That said, the service does perform similarly to its competitors. Casual gamers with a solid internet connection may not notice they aren’t playing on a local machine (at least until the connection temporarily hiccups). Leveraging Amazon’s enormous AWS infrastructure has really paid off in that regard.

Ultimately, whether or not Amazon Luna is worth it depends on you. If you want a taste of the future, it’s absolutely a respectable alternative to Xbox Cloud Gaming or Google Stadia. We wouldn’t necessarily recommend it over either service (at least in early access), but since it’s a simple subscription you can try and cancel at any time. 

Internet requirements and data usage

One nice thing about Amazon Luna is that it offers a variety of streaming options to cater to different speeds. Amazon recommends speeds of at least 10Mbps for 1080p streaming, or 35Mbps for 4K when it becomes available.

Data caps are also a concern for many customers and can lead to reduced speeds or a shockingly high bill at the end of the month. Gaming at 1080p can consume upwards of 10GB per hour, so use discretion if you don’t have an unlimited plan.

Thankfully, Amazon Luna has implemented an option to cap stream quality at 720p. This should alleviate data consumption woes faced by other cloud gaming services.

Device support

Currently, Luna supports Fire TV, PC, Mac, Android phones, iPhones, and iPads via web apps. PC and Mac users can access the platform either via the Chrome browser or the standalone application.

In December 2020, Amazon Luna added support for a select number of Android smartphones. They must be running on Android 9 or higher, and access the service on the Chrome web browser version 86 or above, with a download speed of at least 10Mbps.

How much is Amazon Luna?

Amazon Luna channels 2021 update

Amazon Luna currently has an early access price of $5.99 a month. This subscription includes unlimited access to a growing catalog of games and 1080p/60fps streaming on two devices simultaneously. 4K quality was previously listed as “coming soon” but the service has since backtracked and instead will focus on other improvements.

Channels are available for an additional fee. The Ubisoft Plus channel costs $17.99 per month and the Family channel costs $2.99 a month. And while right now you need access to the Luna+ early access program to access other channels, eventually you will be able to sign up for them separately. That means you can pay for just the subscription you need, and swap back and forth to access different libraries.

The Ubisoft channel includes the same 1080p/60 quality and unlimited gameplay, but only for one device. However, it features the ultimate edition of each game, with all DLC unlocked for certain titles. If you already pay for Ubisoft Plus on another platform, you can connect your Ubisoft account to access the Amazon Luna channel at no additional charge.

Note that the pricing above is only for the early access program. Expect the service to cost significantly more at launch (unless it ends up getting bundled with an Amazon Prime subscription). The company will send a notification 30 days before the pricing changes, but be aware that this is just an introductory price.

The Amazon Luna controller

Amazon Luna controller
Amazon

If you want to get the most out of a Luna subscription, you’ll also want to pick up an Amazon Luna controller. Amazon claims that using the official controller can reduce latency by 17 to 30 milliseconds when compared to standard Bluetooth controllers, which is huge for competitive multiplayer titles.

It does this by connecting directly to Amazon’s servers with a built-in Wi-Fi receiver with support for both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz networks. This removes the middleman of your local PC or streaming device for inputs. Wired gameplay is also available with a USB-C cable, which unfortunately isn’t included in the box.

The Amazon Luna controller is similar to an Xbox controller, but with built-in Wi-Fi for reduced latency.

As for the controller’s design, it closely matches the layout of the hugely popular Xbox controller. It features a textured grip and the standard layout: four action buttons, two offset joysticks, a d-pad, two bumpers, and two triggers. There are also four buttons in the center for home, action, menu, and microphone control. On the bottom of the controller, there’s a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired audio.

The controller is powered by two replaceable AA batteries, which are included in the box. You need to use the Luna Controller mobile app to set it up, but once completed, you can switch between devices with ease.

The Amazon Luna controller costs $69.99 on its own, or $82.98 when bundled with a phone clip. You can also get the controller bundled with a Fire TV 4K stick for $119.98. Previously the controller was exclusive to those accepted in the beta program, but you can now buy it without an invitation. Click the button below to learn more.

Amazon Luna games

Amazon Luna games
Amazon

An Amazon Luna subscription includes unlimited access to roughly 50 games from a variety of publishers. The list isn’t as impressive as Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming catalog, but it’s a solid start. The games are running on Windows machines, so theoretically it should be easier to add games to Luna than Stadia, which requires developers to port their games to a Linux-based platform.

However, these games cannot be purchased individually and require a persistent subscription to play. Games may also be removed from the service as time goes on, removing access for even paying subscribers. In this regard it’s similar to Xbox Game Pass, but without the option to buy a game once it’s removed.

Although you can get more games by subscribing to more channels, the base subscription to Amazon Luna Plus includes a wide variety of games. Here’s the full list of Amazon Luna Plus games in early access:

  • Abzu
  • Alien: Isolation
  • A Plague Tale: Innocence
  • AO Tennis 2
  • Aragami
  • Assassin’s Creed Valhalla
  • Atomik: RunGunJumpGun
  • Blair Witch
  • Blasphemous
  • BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
  • Blazing Chrome
  • Bloodstained
  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling
  • Call of the Sea
  • Castlevania Anniversary Collection
  • Contra Collection
  • Control
  • Cook Serve Delicious 3
  • CrossCode
  • Deponia Doomsday
  • Edna & Harvey: Harvey’s New Eyes
  • Edna & Harvey: The Breakout
  • Everspace
  • Far Cry 6
  • FIFA 21
  • Furi
  • Ghost of a Tale
  • Goodbye Deponia
  • Grid
  • Hard Reset Redux
  • Iconoclasts
  • Immortals Fenyx Rising
  • Indivisible
  • Infinite Minigolf
  • Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel III
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV
  • Lumines Remastered
  • Mega Man 11
  • Metro Exodus
  • Mighty Switch Force! Collection
  • No More Heroes
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle
  • Obduction
  • Overcooked 2
  • Panzer Dragoon
  • Paper Beast
  • R-Type Dimensions EX
  • Redout
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
  • Rez Infinite
  • Riders Republic
  • Rime
  • River City Girls
  • Scott Pilgrim vs. The World: The Game – Complete Edition
  • Shadow Tactics
  • Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition
  • Shantae: Risky’s Revenge
  • Sonic Mania Plus
  • Steamworld Dig
  • Steamworld Dig 2
  • Steamworld Heist
  • Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
  • Super Mega Baseball 3
  • Sythentik: Legion Rising
  • Tacoma
  • Tangledeep
  • Tennis World Tour 2
  • Trails of Cold Steel 3
  • The Mummy Demastered
  • The Sexy Brutale
  • The Surge
  • The Surge 2
  • Thimbleweed Park
  • Under Night In-Birth
  • Valfaris
  • Victor Vran
  • Watch Dogs: Legion
  • Wonderboy
  • The Wonderful 101 Remastered
  • Yakuza 0
  • Yoku’s Island Express
  • Yooka-Laylee
  • Yooka-Laylee Impossible Lair
  • Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

This list will expand over time, and you can gain access to more games by subscribing to more channels in the future. Amazon has promised that more than 100 games will be included with Luna Plus at launch. You can also access nearly the entire Ubisoft catalog via the Ubisoft Plus channel.

Amazon is also developing first-party games under Amazon Game Studios. The studio’s first major title, a battle royale game called Crucible, had a disastrous launch and was ultimately put back into development before being canceled. The second title, an MMO called New World, managed to gain a lot of traction in the November 2021 early access period, but it’s not yet available on Amazon Luna. It is, however, included in GeForce Now.

What is the Amazon Luna release date?

Amazon Luna doesn’t have an official release date, but it is currently in early access for users in the US. We’ll update this article as soon as more details emerge.

Where is it available?

Amazon Luna is currently only available to a limited number of users in the continental United States. You can sign up for the service at the link below.

How does it stack up against alternatives?

Google Stadia controller with phone mounted

Amazon Luna is poised to take on the likes of Xbox Cloud Gaming, GeForce Now, and Google Stadia. Although it’s still too early for a definitive take on which is best, there are some key similarities and differences to take note of.

Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly Project xCloud) is the service that’s most similar to Luna. It also has a library of games locked behind a single subscription fee, but the games are a step above Luna’s offerings. They include all of Microsoft’s first-party titles from popular franchises like Halo and Gears of War. However, cloud support is currently limited to 720p quality and doesn’t include games you’ve purchased. It also costs more than twice as much at $14.99 a month.

GeForce Now is more of a virtual machine service than a true cloud gaming platform, but it offers many of the same benefits. It allows you to play your existing game library from Steam or other stores on a powerful machine in the cloud. The free plan is limited to game sessions of just one hour, but the Priority plan bumps that up to $9.99 a month. There’s also an upcoming RTX plan that includes access to RTX 3080 GPUs, costing $100 for six months. Just keep in mind that you will need to buy all of your games separately, and not all games will work with the service.

Google Stadia is the only cloud gaming platform that doesn’t require a persistent subscription. You can pick and buy just the games you want and play them at any time at 1080p/60fps. You can also bump that up to 4K quality with Stadia Pro, which costs $9.99 a month and includes a decent catalog of games to play as long as you remain subscribed. However, the service closed its first-party Stadia game studios, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for future investment from the company.

Other FAQs

Q: Does Amazon Luna have ads?
A:
Yes. Like Kindle devices, Amazon Luna displays advertisements while connecting to a game. However, they do not appear while the game is loading or during gameplay. There’s currently no word on whether or not these ads will be able to be disabled with a single purchase, which can be done with Kindle devices.

Q: Will more games be added to the service?
A: Yes. Amazon has promised at least 100 games for the base Amazon Luna Plus subscription, plus many more with add-on channels like Ubisoft Plus.

Q: What happened to Project Tempo?
A: Project Tempo was the codename for Amazon Luna while it was in development. Now that it’s been officially revealed, the codename has been dropped.

Q: Is Amazon Luna available in India?
A: No, Amazon Luna is currently only available for early access in the US. We’ll update this article as soon as global availability expands.

Q: Is Amazon Luna included with Prime?
A: At the moment, no. It’s only available for an additional subscription fee. However, it’s possible that Amazon folds it into Amazon Prime at some point in the future.