Amazon launches Luna in the US with expanded subscription options and Twitch integration

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,534   +1,061
Staff member
TL;DR: If you have been waiting all this time for Amazon to send you an invite to try Luna, the wait is over. The cloud-gaming service just went live to customers within the United States. There are several monthly subscriptions to choose from, but perhaps starting with the Prime channel, which is free to Prime members, is a good place to start if you are on the fence about it.

On Tuesday, Amazon announced that it is finally rolling out its cloud-gaming platform Luna to everyone in the US. The service has been in an invite-only beta since the fall of 2020. It brings with it some new features and subscription packages.

At its heart, Luna is not much different from Google Stadia, Nvidia GeForce Now, or any other cloud-gaming platform. The service streams games from high-end servers, so you don't need the latest and greatest hardware to play them. In fact, one of the primary selling points is that you can play games on any device, including cell phones and Fire TVs. Where Luna differs is its payment structure.

For comparison, Stadia has a free tier with basic service and a premium subscription with added features like 4K. Both have access to a library of free games, which rotate in and out monthly. There is also a more significant collection of games that users can purchase just as they would on Steam or any other digital storefront. Purchased games can be streamed whenever the subscriber wants.

The Luna model is a bit different in that it offers an assortment of smaller libraries it calls "channels," each with differing subscription rates. So users can build their own service almost à la carte.

The primary channel Luna has had from the beginning is Luna+. This bundle has 115 games across multiple genres for $5.99 per month. Later it added the Ubsoft+ collection for $17.99 featuring a rotating slate of old and new Ubisoft releases. Then it started a family subscription for $2.99 per month that currently has 44 kid-friendly games.

Coinciding with today's official US launch, Luna has expanded its subscription options, adding three more channels—Prime, Retro, and Jackbox Games.

The Prime Gaming channel is free to Amazon Prime members, but the trade-off is that it has a minimal selection of games from the paid subscriptions for a limited time only. For example, Phogs, Devil May Cry 5, Flashback, and Observer: System Redux are available from March 1 through March 31. Immortals Fenyx Rising Gold Edition is coming on March 8 but will only be playable until March 15. April's lineup is the King of Fighters '98, Amnesia Rebirth, Tracks Toybox Edition, and Mortal Shell.

The other two channels—Retro and Jackbox Games—are $4.99 per month and feature what you would expect judging by their names. Retro has 46 classics and throwbacks like Another World, Pong, Bloodrayne, and Missle Command. Jackbox features its namesake's series of You Don't Know Jack party games.

Along with the channel expansion, Amazon has some new features for the platform. Unsurprisingly, it has added seamless Twitch integration. Once set up, you can start broadcasting to your Twitch channel with one click.

The second feature is a "Luna Phone Controller." Subscribers can use the free controller app for iOS and Android phones to play Luna on Fire TV. There is already a $50 dedicated Luna controller. Xbox and PlayStation controllers are also compatible with the service. The app adds a way for someone without a physical controller to at least try the service out before making a commitment.

The last thing Amazon mentioned is that Luna+ and the Family channel are getting price bumps. Starting April 1 Luna+ will be $9.99 per month, and Family doubles to $5.99. However, existing early access customers or new subscribers that sign up before March 31 will be grandfathered into the old prices. There is nothing special they have to do to keep the lower rates other than keeping their subscriptions current.

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Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 3,534   +1,061
Staff member
Yeah, it's a bit like Netflix in a way. You never own the games, you just have access to them until something changes--gets rotated out or snatched by another service (remember the Marvel shows that were Netflix originals until Disney decided it wanted them?). In that respect, I suppose Stadia is better. But TBH, anything digital is never truly yours forever since ripping it to physical media will land you in jail. Anything could happen to a company hosting digital media, and there is nothing we can do about it.
 

dangh

Posts: 625   +980
Gaas is not my thing. I don't believe larger devs can make decent money with this. It's like Spotify - musicians makes money on live events, not on service. And making game is way more costly. Except if it's indie, then anything counts.