Amazon Luna’s US-Wide Launch Is A Big Boost For Cloud Gamingby Kris Holt · Forbes
It’s a big week for Amazon Luna and the cloud gaming ecosystem as a whole, as the service is now open to everyone in the mainland US. From its October 2020 debut until now, the service had been invite-only.
Amazon opted for a different pricing model than Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — which offers a fantastic, unified library of cloud gaming titles for one monthly fee — and Google Stadia. Players there can buy games individually and/or access more than 50 titles as part of a Pro subscription.
Luna’s games are split into channels, each of which has its own monthly fee, so you only pay for what you’re interested in. Along with the main Luna+ Channel (the price of which will jump from $6/month to $10/month for new subscribers in April) and the Family Channel, Amazon added several more as part of this week’s launch.
The Retro Channel offers a selection of classics such as Street Fighter II—Hyper Fighting and Metal Slug 3, while the Jackbox Games Channel, which is fairly self-explanatory, supports a feature that lets friends play with you even if they aren’t subscribers.
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There’s also a new Amazon Prime Gaming Channel. Amazon Prime members will get access to a rotating selection of games on Luna each month at no extra cost. The March lineup includes Devil May Cry 5, Observer: System Redux, Phogs! and Flashback. Immortals Fenyx Rising (which is also on the Ubisoft+ channel) will be available on the Prime Gaming channel from March 8-14.
There are an estimated 150 million Prime members in the US, most of whom now have access to a solid bunch of games on their everyday devices without paying extra for it.
Along with Luna’s own offerings, the latest additions join the Ubisoft+ Channel. That one’s interesting, since subscribers can play a bunch of Ubisoft games on not only Luna, but PC and Stadia as well. Ubisoft+ is also coming to Xbox consoles soon.
Amazon has also added a couple of features to Luna, such as the option to start a Twitch broadcast on PC, Mac and Fire TV. You’ll be able to connect your smartphone to the latter via a QR code and use it as a webcam and microphone. In other words, you can become a Twitch streamer without any dedicated hardware.
Also, instead of using the Luna Controller or a compatible third-party one, you can play Luna games on Fire TV with the iOS and Android Luna Controller app.
This is a major expansion for Luna, and one that’s a big positive for the cloud gaming ecosystem as a whole. Having more ways to access games is good for everyone, especially when when services are available on a wide range of devices.
Luna is supported on PC, Mac, Fire TV, Fire tablets and Chromebooks. It also works on iPhone, iPad and Android through web apps. Along with the likes of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Stadia and NVIDIA GeForce Now, the proper launch of Luna should help more players access great, recent games even if they don’t have a new console or a gaming PC.
With the expansion of Luna, Amazon is well on the way to becoming a major player in gaming beyond the creator-focused side of things on Twitch. After years of trying and failing to make a hit game, it finally broke through with New World, which roped in a large player base at launch and was one of the 12 highest-earning games on Steam last year.
The games division followed that up with Lost Ark in February. Amazon localized Smilegate RPG’s game for Western audiences and had an even bigger hit on its hands. With a peak of 1.3 million, the free-to-play game had the second-highest concurrent player count ever on Steam.
There are a couple of obvious next steps for Amazon when it comes to Luna. One: it needs to bring the platform to other countries (hi from Canada!). Two: it’s odd that Lost Ark isn’t available on Luna yet. Given how big that game is already, adapting that PC title for Luna has to be a top priority for Amazon Games.