What just happened? The latest entrant to the cloud gaming craze appears to be Amazon. Today it announced it is launching a game streaming platform. It will feature a core service called the "Luna channel" with additional "channels" from publishers like Ubisoft added later, presumably for additional costs.
Update (9/25/2020): Amazon reached out to us to clarify the difference between Luna and Luna+.
"Luna is the name of the new cloud gaming service that lets you play games on compatible Fire TV, PC, and Mac devices as well as through web apps on iPhones and iPads," the spokesperson told us. "Players subscribe to game channels, such as Luna+ and the Ubisoft channel, directly through Luna."
So in a nutshell, Luna is the platform, and Luna+ is the subscription service with the playable games.
Amazon announced on Thursday that it would be launching a game streaming service called Luna. The reveal was not unexpected. Last November, anonymous sources said AWS would be unveiling a game-streaming platform "next year," so right on cue.
Luna will initially be available on PC, macOS, iPhone, iPad, and of course, Fire TV. An Android version will arrive sometime after the platform is up and running. When that will be is still up in the air. Amazon did not have a timeline to put forth, but it did say that US users can register for early access beginning today. So a beta launch at the very least is imminent.
Amazon refers to Luna and Luna+, but it is unclear if "Luna" is a free tier for the service since one is not explicitly mentioned in its press release. According to the FAQs on the Luna website, it does seem clear that they are different, but only "Luna+" is outlined in any detail.
Users will pay $5.99 per month, but Amazon only guarantees that rate during the early access period. It is likely using that time to work out bugs and gauge player adoption rates and will adjust pricing accordingly. Subscribers will be allowed to stream on up to two devices at once for an unlimited number of hours.
Luna will initially be capable of 1080p at 60fps, but Amazon says that "4K is coming soon" to select titles. It did not have a full list of the over 100 available games, but does feature several prominent titles on its website, including Control, Watch Dogs: Legion, Resident Evil VII, Metro Exodus, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, and more.
Amazon is also releasing a Luna cloud-connected controller to go along with the service(s), much as Google did with Stadia. AWS claims it connects to the cloud to avoid the latency issues involved with controlling games through the physical device. This is a long running issue with game streaming clients such as Sony's PlayStation Remote Play.
There will also be a secondary Ubisoft "channel" subscription.
"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," the description reads, adding, "This is the first of multiple Luna game channels in development, where customers can play games from their favorite publishers and genres."
So it sounds like Amazon might have more of a game-playing cable subscription service model in mind, where users can add content ala carte on top of the basic Luna service. However, this is just a speculatory observation.
Those interested in trying Luna can signup after answering a few simple questions on Amazon's registration page.