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Amazon unveils Luna, a cloud-based games platform that comes with its own controller

By Benjamin Bullard
The Amazon Luna video game controller

Amazon has unveiled the next big piece of its still-emerging gaming strategy: Luna, a cloud-based games streaming service that takes aim at competitors like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud with a robust launch library and full Twitch integration that’s set to debut next month.

Part of the retail giant’s much larger tech info blowout Thursday, Amazon’s Luna reveal teased a low introductory-priced subscription service featuring its own controller that connects directly to the company’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) gaming cloud — a move that, according to Amazon, is aimed at delivering buttery-smooth gameplay by reducing the latency often present in online games.

Touting a new streaming platform “where it's easy to play great games on devices you already own,” Amazon’s freshly launched Luna website promises instant access to a growing library of titles, with “no waiting for lengthy downloads or updates — just play.” Though the Xbox-style Luna controller promises direct integration with the service, players can also get in on the action with a DualShock 4 or Xbox One controller, as well as a mouse and keyboard — and we’d expect an announcement that adds the new next-gen controllers from Sony and Microsoft to that list sometime in the future.

Although Amazon has had a faltering start with its in-house games development program, Luna (previously known by its development codename Project Tempo) won’t be limited only to the company’s first-party titles. Its day-one launch library is crammed with games you’ve definitely heard of, and they span pretty much every gaming genre, from action platformers to brawlers to RPGs, sports games, and much more. A quick look at Amazon’s launch lineup reveals current-gen console titles — some yet to be released — like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla and Watch Dogs: Legion, as well as plenty of recently released games including A Plague Tale: Innocence, Blasphemous, Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Control, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and Sonic Mania.

Taking a page from its Prime Video service, Luna will also feature “channels,” game feeds that let players tap into a curated selection of titles. Amazon’s big announcement-day channels introduced Ubisoft as the first third-party taker, with Amazon teasing “new and favorite titles from Ubisoft, including ultimate edition versions for select titles” — all streamable in up to 4K resolution. The platform’s native “Luna Plus” channel will also host most of the non-Ubisoft titles revealed with the platform’s launch.

Luna is also aimed at deepening players’ engagement with Twitch, the hugely popular live streaming platform that Amazon also owns. Luna will feature Twitch streams that highlight games in its library, and allow players to hop directly from a game’s Twitch stream into the game itself.

For now, the only way to get early access to the Luna platform (or the $49.99 controller) is by invitation. The Luna website offers a link for players to sign up for an invite, with Amazon notifying candidates via email that they’ve made it through. The service is set to go live for early invitees sometime in October, and it’ll be available for supported FireTV, PC, and MacOS devices. Via a link-based web app (there won’t be a Luna app in the Apple App Store), Luna will also be available for iPhone and iPad.