Amazon announces new cloud gaming service

At its 2020 hardware event today, Amazon announced a cloud gaming platform called Luna.

The news isn’t really surprising considering the service has been rumoured since last year, and was previously codenamed “Tempo,” while an Amazon-made game controller leaked out just ahead of today’s event.

While not clear when Luna will launch widely, but it will initially be available on PC, Mac, Fire TV, and iPhone and iPad (via web apps), with an Android version planned for after launch. Amazon says that interested users in the US can request early access to the service starting today. There’s no word on international availability. Luna will be powered by AWS, Amazon’s ubiquitous web platform.

Amazon says more than 100 games will be available via the Luna Plus channel, and launch titles include Resident Evil 7, Control, Panzer Dragoon, A Plague Tale: Innocence, The Surge 2, Yooka-Laylee, GRID, Abzu, and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons. Amazon says more titles will be added “over time.” The company has also partnered with Ubisoft for a specific “gaming channel.” Here’s how Amazon describes it:

Players who subscribe to this channel will have access to their favorite Ubisoft titles in up to 4K resolution, mobile gameplay, and access to new titles when the channel launches like Assassins Creed Valhalla, Far Cry 6, and Immortals Fenyx Rising the same day they release. This is the first of multiple Luna game channels in development, where customers can play games from their favorite publishers and genres.

Luna will also feature Twitch integration. “Inside the Luna experience, players will see Twitch streams for games in the service, and from Twitch, they’ll be able to instantly start playing Luna games,” Amazon says. Games can be played either with a mouse and keyboard or a Bluetooth controller. To go along with this, Amazon also announced its own Alexa-enabled Luna Controller, which will cost $49.99 during the early access period.

Here’s how it works:

Luna Controller is Alexa-enabled and connects directly to the cloud to effortlessly control your game, featuring a multiple-antenna design that prioritizes un-interrupted Wi-Fi for lower latency gaming. In fact, our testing showed a reduction in roundtrip latency when playing Luna Controller with Cloud Direct vs. Luna Controller via Bluetooth, with reductions of between 17 to 30 milliseconds among PC, Fire TV, and Mac. Because the Luna Controller connects directly to cloud servers, players can easily switch between screens — such as Fire TV to mobile phone — without additional pairing or configuration changes.

Amazon has had a curious relationship with gaming over the years, dabbling in various different businesses. In addition to owning the streaming service Twitch, Amazon also develops its own games, including the online shooter Cruciblewhich had such a poor launch it quickly went back into closed beta. The company is also working on a massively multiplayer game called New World, which was originally slated to debut this summer before being delayed to 2021.

Today’s news puts Amazon in direct competition with both Google Stadia and Microsoft’s xCloud in the increasingly crowded cloud gaming space.

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