Cloud gaming eliminates spending big bucks on consoles or PCs to enjoy video games. You can stream over a hundred popular games, including Resident Evil, Mega Man, and Castlevania, to just about any device for a few dollars a month on Amazon Luna, one of the younger market players.
After a restricted early access launch, it is now accessible to all users, and under the perfect conditions, it may seem as seamless as playing on a dedicated gaming computer.
How does Luna compare to other cloud gaming options, such as Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate? Is it a viable substitute for the PlayStation 5 and Xbox One Series X, which are out of reach for most people?
We spent a couple of weeks going through many Luna games on various devices to figure it out.
Amazon Luna: Quick information
Amazon Luna is your best bet to experience cutting-edge games without breaking the bank. It’s ideal for those who aren’t too concerned with keeping up with the latest releases but still want access to a wide variety of content for a reasonable monthly subscription, much like Netflix.
Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Resident Evil 7 are a few of the highlights among the more than one hundred titles available on Luna for a monthly fee beginning at $2.99. In addition, the Prime Gaming channel provides Amazon Prime members with access to a limited, rotating collection of free games.
You can stream content on virtually any device, including computers, smartphones, tablets, and even your TV if you have a Fire Stick. Streaming games on your TV is very convenient. The platform is compatible with a wide variety of current controllers, but Amazon also sells its own Luna Controller for $70–and it’s very cool.
Regarding pricing, Luna is one of the top cloud gaming services, with the Luna+ plan offering over 100 titles for just $6 a month. If you want to buy games individually, Google Stadia is a better alternative, and it has several recent hits like Cyberpunk 2077 and Resident Evil Village. More than 400 cloud games make Xbox Game Pass Ultimate the most enticing option, but at $15 per month, it’s more costly than Luna. Though Game Pass lags behind the other two services regarding TV compatibility, users may access their games from most devices.
Amazon Luna’s outstanding features
To our great satisfaction, the Luna interface is more structured and curated than the ones we’ve encountered on Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass. There are sections on the main screen for editor’s choices and genre-specific recommendations. Titles may be sorted quickly and easily by genre, membership tier, etc. Including Metacritic scores for all games is a nice touch that helps set expectations for how much time you’ll want to devote to each one.
The Luna Couch feature enables you to play some Luna games online with non-subscriber pals. It is as simple as providing a code to a friend for them to input on the Luna website for the functionality to work on multitudes of titles in the Luna collection. We were gaming together within seconds of starting a couch session and emailing a code to my coworker Ryan.
Luna Couch is simple to set up; however, my experience with its effectiveness was inconsistent. We both encountered annoying slowness when playing Sonic Team Racing, but quick pace action in River City Girls was much more fun. Luna Couch is a handy feature that competitors like Stadia and Xbox Game Streaming do not provide, even though it did not continuously operate flawlessly.
Because it functions similarly to what would occur if a local buddy plugged in their controller, this feature allows you to play with others for no additional cost. It adds online multiplayer to many titles that don’t provide it out of the box.
In our testing, the recently-implemented option to broadcast your gameplay immediately to Twitch while gaming on Luna proved somewhat functional. Scan a QR code on your mobile device, link your Twitch profile, select your broadcast settings, and you’re ready to broadcast your Street Fighter or Assassin’s Creed talents. There was no lag or slowdowns observed when playing and streaming at the same time.
Is playing on Amazon Luna smooth?
Amazon Luna is as simple to use as other cloud-based gaming platforms, and you may start playing games on the Luna website or the Luna app on your Fire device in a matter of seconds without having to deal with annoying downloads. We played Luna on our television and many different computers and phones and found that, with a few outliers, it worked consistently well across all of them.
For the most part, the gaming experience on Luna was fluid and responsive, whether I was slicing opposing Vikings in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla on our Fire TV Stick 4K or flying a futuristic space jet in Chorus on the MacBook Pro. It was easy to forget that we were streaming games like Riders Republic and SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom since they looked and felt the same as if we had installed them locally. However, a few hitches served as a sobering reminder that cloud gaming still seems highly dependent on your internet connection quality.
Playing the fast-paced action game Ghostrunner on a Fire TV Stick 4K Max made this point more apparent. In this game, lousy timing may result in sudden death, so it’s essential to get your timing right. There were annoying instances of latency that culminated in our destruction. There was one instance in which the image got so pixelated and distorted that it was impossible to play. On our desktop PC, we encountered comparable slowdowns while playing Sonic Team Racing.
While these instances of severe latency do not happen often, your mileage may vary depending on the speed and reliability of your home internet connection and the devices you use. Amazon advises that Luna will need around 10GB per hour when streaming games and proposes a 5GHz Wi-Fi connectivity for the optimum experience.
To our surprise, we found that the MacBook Pro, iPhone 12 Pro, and Galaxy Note 10+ provided us with the finest gaming performances. Our Fire TV Stick 4K Max provided a consistently enjoyable viewing experience, albeit the increased visibility of image artifacts when playing a game through online streaming was more noticeable on the larger screen.
Notably, Luna streaming is limited to 1080p quality and 60 frames per second; therefore, 4K gaming is not supported on this platform. Amazon claims that this decision was made to enhance performance in other parts of Luna, although users with 4K TVs or monitors may be disappointed. Google Stadia Pro subscribers can stream in 4K resolution, while Game Pass users can only stream in 1080p resolution at the moment.
Depending on the device, Luna was a mixed bag for us, but the service made switching between devices a breeze. We were pleasantly surprised to be able to pick up precisely where we left off when playing Sonic Mania on the phone and then later on our desktop. In addition to the standard feature of saving your progress across platforms, Luna also allows you to transition between displays without restarting the game.
Amazon Luna games
In contrast to other game streaming services, Luna offers a variety of options (called Channels). Each Luna channel has specialized content, and you may sign up for as many as you like. Here’s a basic summary:
- A Luna+ Channel provides a nice blend of mainstream and independent games for $5.99 per month
- A monthly Family Channel with kid-friendly programming for $2.99
- Priced at $4.99 per month, Retro Channel features an old arcade and console games such as Street Fighter II and Castlevania: Anniversary Collection
- At just $4.99 per month, you can find each of the eight Jackbox Party Pack collections on the Jackbox Games Channel. These collections contain a variety of multiplayer games that may be played online and with friends in person.
- Ubisoft+ Channel provides access to popular titles such as Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, and Watch Dogs at $17,99 per month
- Amazon Prime subscribers have a gaming channel that provides a changing collection of free games
Although the games in each bundle are a fair value for the price, some players may find themselves disappointed by the choices.
Currently, the Luna+ plan costs $6 per month and includes access to 113 games. Control, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, Resident Evil 7, Metro Exodus, Devil May Cry 5, and Alien: Isolation are some of the most popular titles, but the catalog also includes indie darlings, classics, and multiplayer adventures. Smaller games such as Ghostrunner, Enter the Gungeon, Katana Zero, and Killer Queen Black stand out.
For only $2.99, kids may enjoy 42 games on the Family Channel, such as SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom, Garfield Kart: Furious Racing, and Transformers: Battlegrounds. Snake Pass, Death Squared, Super Mega Baseball, and Kine are games that any gamer should check out, even though this bundle is designed for younger gamers.
There are 46 vintage games, including Street Fighter II: Hyper Fighting, Metal Slug 3, Asteroids Deluxe, Missile Command, and the Contra and Castlevania collections, available on the new Retro Channel for $4.99.
The $4.99 Jackbox Games Collection brings you all eight Jackbox Party Pack editions, which feature easy (and often humorous) quiz games suited for huge parties – or occasional Luna Couch sessions.
The Ubisoft+ bundle, which costs $17.99 but includes some high-profile games and is playable on platforms other than Amazon Luna, is the priciest option. Some of the more well-known titles included are Watch Dogs, Assassin’s Creed, and Far Cry, while others are more obscure, such as Riders Republic and Trials Fusion. This package is interoperable with Google Stadia and gives you access to a broader selection of PC downloads from Ubisoft (including new titles on the day they are made available). And if you play a lot of PC games, or if you really like Ubisoft games, this is an excellent offer for you.
As a member of Amazon Prime, you may already experience Luna’s services at no additional cost. All Prime members get access to the new Prime Gaming channel, which features a limited rotating selection of the service’s most popular titles. At the time of this writing, Prime Gaming hosts Devil May Cry 5, Phogs!, Flashback, and Observer: System Redux, with future additions including Amnesia Rebirth and Immortals: Fenyx Rising.
Amazon Luna controller
Amazon Luna’s charm lies in the fact that you may play it with an Xbox or PlayStation controller that you may already own. However, if you plan on using Luna on many devices, you may want to consider purchasing Amazon’s own $70 Luna Controller (the price decreased to $50 currently).
The Luna Controller has a solid, high-quality feel, and its design is reminiscent of the Xbox in many ways, down to the textured grips and the smooth, ergonomic curves. Using the navigational pad and face buttons, we could effortlessly pull off spectacular attack combinations in BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, while the deep triggers and noticeable rumble made firing firearms in Metro Exodus seem rewarding.
Although Bluetooth is supported, the Luna Controller’s primary selling point is its Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows you to switch between devices and games without having to re-pair the controller each time. This method, similar to how Google’s Stadia Controller works, was consistently effective while switching between our Fire TV Stick and laptops. With the Luna Controller’s built-in Alexa functionality and microphone, we could check the weather and initiate a Sonic Mania match using only our voice.
We had to restart the Fire TV Stick occasionally since the controller slipped out of sync with it. Another thing that concerns us is that a controller that costs $70 can only be powered by AA batteries that need to be thrown away, as opposed to being rechargeable through USB-C like the Stadia Controller.
You won’t have to fork out the required $70 to use a controller on Luna, which is excellent news. Our Xbox Wireless Controller, Sony DualShock 4, and Razer Wolverine V2 Chroma all functioned well with the service on our PCs, laptops, and mobile devices. The service supports mouse and keyboard inputs on a PC, and it worked particularly nicely with the fantastic Backbone One controller.
You can even utilize the touch controls displayed on the screen if you’re playing on a mobile device and don’t have a controller available. Our experience with them was mixed; they work best with games that require less precision, like Sonic Mania, and not so well with others, like Saints Row; however, we’re glad they’re available.
Although the Luna Controller app isn’t flawless, it does the job if you’re playing simple platformers or role-playing games on the large screen. This feature was added very recently by Amazon. Compared to Google Stadia, Luna’s level of customization is on par, and the inclusion of support for a mouse and keyboard gives it an edge over Microsoft’s Xbox Game Streaming service.
Amazon Luna’s shortcomings and competition
While the individual Luna subscriptions provide excellent value, they do not provide access to all of the most recent AAA titles. Cyberpunk 2077, Madden NFL 22, Borderlands 3, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, and Doom Eternal aren’t available on either service. Neither will grant you access to titles like Call of Duty or Battlefield.
If you want access to every game the service has to serve, you’ll have to spend $27 every month, although individual Luna subscriptions are pretty inexpensive. Because of this, Luna is ideal for people who aren’t too concerned about playing the current hits but still want access to a sizable catalog of games for a low monthly fee.
Google Stadia, Luna’s main rival, offers a unique method by allowing users to purchase games à la carte while simultaneously providing a subscription option and free games. All of the aforementioned popular titles, as well as hundreds more, may be purchased from the Stadia store for $10 to $60 each.
For an additional $10 per month, you can subscribe to Stadia Pro and access a substantial game catalog, including Control, Saints Row IV, Dirt 5, and Darksiders 3, as well as exclusive offers and 4K streaming quality. PUBG: Battlegrounds, Destiny 2, and Hitman are among the titles that can be played without a subscription for free on Stadia, making it perhaps the most critical aspect of the service.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate provides you exposure to more than 400 games in the cloud and on your Xbox or PC for $15 a month. All Halo, Forza, and Gears games, as well as other third-party brands like Mass Effect and Mortal Kombat and sports sims like MLB The Show 21 and NBA 2K21, are available with Game Pass, along with many independent games and family-friendly releases.
According to our analysis, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the single highest value in terms of the amount and quality of games you receive for your money.
Luna is noticeably cheaper, to begin with, for the budget-conscious, while Xbox cloud games are playable on most displays but still lack a TV option for those without Xbox consoles.
There’s a lot to like about Amazon Luna if you want to dabble in gaming on the cheap. It’s compatible with mobile devices, desktop computers, and Fire TVs, and it has a vast library of games available to subscribers for a low monthly fee.
But Stadia and Game Pass Ultimate are both powerful competitors to Luna. If you want to purchase and own your games and have access to a somewhat more extensive selection of popular titles, Stadia is still the superior option. And if you’re into Xbox games like Halo and Gears of War, Game Pass Ultimate is still the best option for versatility. Since Game Pass will allow you to play most of the main titles available on the PS5 and Xbox Series X, these services are marginally more realistic alternatives to those consoles.
If you just want to enjoy games and don’t care about blockbusters, Luna is a good option. Currently, any Luna channel offers a seven-day free trial, and Amazon Prime members may test the Prime Gaming channel at no additional cost.
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