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Amazon enters game streaming market with new Luna service
Amazon enters game streaming market with new Luna service avatar

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Amazon is following Google and Microsoft into the video game streaming market with Luna, a new service announced on Friday, AEST. The service will run off AWS game servers and allow users to stream video games though Amazon's Fire TV devices, smartphones and tablets, as well as PC and Mac.

The service includes the Luna+ game channel, where players will have access to more than 100 games on a subscription basis. The game catalogue looks to be a work in progress, but the presentation spotlighted Control, Resident Evil 7 and Sonic Mania, and touted a new partnership with Ubisoft. A separate Ubisoft channel will allow Luna users to play Assassin's Creed: Valhalla and Far Cry 6 on their release days.

In the US the service start at an "introductory price" of $US6 ($9) per month, which is cheaper than the $US10 mark set by Google Stadia, which debuted in November 2019 and earned criticism in its early days for latency issues that affected gameplay. Microsoft recently launched streaming of Xbox games as part of its $US15 per month Game Pass Ultimate subscription. Additional Luna channels, such as Ubisoft's, cost extra.

Amazon's Luna lets players in the US stream games over the internet.

None of the three companies have announced solid plans to launch game streaming in Australia.

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Engadget, which had an opportunity to demo Luna, wrote that the technology worked "just fine," playing across a Fire TV, Mac and iPhone over the span of 45 minutes.

"I started on Fire TV and was able to boot up the beefiest game in the store, Control, in a matter of seconds. It stuttered a bit throughout the opening scenes, but not enough to interrupt the cinematic flow," wrote Jessica Conditt of Engadget. "More often than not, gameplay was smooth, and none of the network interruptions that did appear were significant enough to break my experience."

A news release for Luna+ boasts that subscribers can play on two devices simultaneously and get 4K resolutions at 60 frames per second for select titles.

Alongside the service, Amazon also introduced the Luna Controller, an Alexa-enabled device that connects directly to the cloud. During its presentation at the Amazon Devices event, developers touted the direct cloud linkage of the controller for reducing latency, noting it would save 17 to 30 milliseconds compared with using a Bluetooth controller. The Luna Controller will be sold separately.

Luna also integrates live-streaming site Twitch, another Amazon property. When users scroll through available game titles, they'll be able see a variety of Twitch creators currently streaming that game, and Twitch users with a Luna subscription will be able to jump straight from watching a stream to playing the game, if it's in the library.

Early access for Luna is available now for Fire TV, PC, Mac and via web apps for iPhone and iPad. The Luna team stressed to Engadget that the software is "not a native app in the App Store," bypassing the game streaming limitations and 30 percent fee on iOS that Microsoft's Game Pass, Google's Stadia and Fortnite have publicly clashed with Apple over. Android availability is coming soon.

The Washington Post, with staff reporters

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