File picture: Reuters/Benoit Tessier
File picture: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

Amazon joins forces with Ubisoft, announces new video game streaming service

By The Washington Post Time of article published Sep 25, 2020

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By Mike Hume

Amazon is pushing into the video game streaming market with Luna, a new service announced Thursday. The service will run off AWS game servers and allow users to stream video games though Fire TV, smartphones and tablets, as well as PC and Mac.

The service includes the Luna+ game channel, where players can access an array of 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.

The service will cost $5.99 a month, which is cheaper than the $9.99 mark set by Google Stadia, which debuted in November 2019 and earned criticism in its early days for latency issues that affected gameplay. Microsoft also has a cloud-based streaming service in the works with Project xCloud, which released in beta last November as well.

Similar to those other services, users will be able to stop play and move from one device (like a PC) to another (like a smartphone) and resume their progress.

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."

At the moment, Luna only allows users to stream games from the subscription service and does not allow for streaming of digitally downloaded games not included on the Luna+ or Ubisoft channels. Additionally, the Ubisoft channel will require a separate subscription, with pricing to be announced.

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 retail for $49.99.

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.

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 xCloud, Google's Stadia and Fortnite have publicly clashed with Apple over. Android availability is coming soon.

The Washington Post

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