Hands-on with Amazon’s Luna game streaming service


Amazon’s Luna streaming service has arrived, allowing the company to quickly reach a limited set of subscribers today. It’s starting with a library of 50 games and supports for Mac, PC, Fire TV, and first, a major streaming service, for iOS devices – because Amazon has a web app that supports Apple’s controversial app The store bypasses the rules. Luna starts at $ 5.99 a month.

We have spent a few hours playing games with Luna. Here is what it is like so far and how it compares to other streaming services such as Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia.

Luna’s iOS web app.

Display

The biggest question for Luna – like any cloud gaming service – is performance. For cloud gaming to work well, companies like Amazon need to deliver fast compressed video frames that push your buttons even if the internet bandwidth dips and even if your home is on an Amazon server farm Not located right next door. Amazon recommends a minimum connection speed of 10 Mbps for Luna, but your home’s internal network also matters. We tested Luna in two different devices The ledge Editors’ homes on two different coasts with Internet speeds and connection types.

So far, 10 Mbps seems not nearly enough. We found that we needed a connection of at least 25 Mbps to have a continuously playable stream, which would obviously lead to greater bandwidth. My colleague Sean Hollister limited his router to 10 Mbps, 15 Mbps and 20 Mbps, but he would still get stretches of Choppy video.

The best performance (of course) came from a PC with a wired Ethernet connection and controller, with no other family members streaming video into the house. Are playing Bloodshed: Night of Ritual Originally on that solid of a connection to the running game was actually inseparable. (Switching back and forth, you can tell that the sword takes an oh-so-long time to swing, but it took full playability.) Apparently, to stream the game to a capable PC There are actually some benefits of using Luna.

On the other hand, Metro: ExodusOne of the most linearly intensive games available to stream, is certainly worse viewed and played than a web browser on a capable gaming PC. Honestly, it doesn’t sound great in Luna or Stadia, but at least Stadia can keep up with a mouse and keyboard. Luna’s mouse was extremely lethargic.

Left: Luna. Correct: Stadia. This is Metro: Exodus In a best case 1080p in a PC web browser.

Using a wireless connection introduces too many variables to Luna’s performance. Luna works very well if you have a stable, strong Wi-Fi connection, with no low lag, smooth HD video, and responsive gameplay to enjoy fast-paced platforms like Sonic mania On a iPhone with a paired Bluetooth controller.

But when Luna has a bad relationship, he is fat. For some reason, Amazon does not reduce the quality of video streaming when the connection speed is poor; It only tries to make electricity by dropping the frame until it picks up speed. I also ran into issues where the audio lagged behind an otherwise smooth gameplay, possibly due to a sluggish connection. Right now, it seems that Luna’s performance is almost entirely dependent on having a good internet.

Luna works on iOS devices with a variety of Bluetooth controllers.

On initial tests on my iPhone, games like Control My Wi-Fi was running slower than normal because were really ineffective. It wasn’t until a full network restart that the speed was bumped up and allowed for a much more playable gameplay experience. I actually had the privilege of performing consistently well on LTE, which was consistent against my constant Wi-Fi (which is bouncing between 30 Mbps and 120 Mbps).

No matter how good they play, this game loads fast. One of the biggest issues with Microsoft’s xCloud is that every game is literally streaming from an old Xbox One S motherboard to a server rack, and many games can take a full minute to load. Stadia and Luna are running on powerful servers that do not have this issue. Control A PS4, and Bloodstained It pops up on our gaming PC at home as soon as it happens.

There are two major parts of Luna’s performance that we haven’t been able to test: 4K streaming, which is listed as “Coming Soon” and Amazon Luna Controller, which can connect directly to Amazon’s servers and latency. Promises to reduce. 17 to 30 milliseconds compared to a Bluetooth controller ”. Amazon today only opened sales for the Luna controller to reach customers, and it won’t ship for another 10 days.

iOS web app

Particularly noteworthy for Luna is the fact that it is one of the first game streaming services to offer a functional iOS option, thanks to a soap-up web app. “Installing” Luna just needs to open it once in Safari and save the Luna website on your iOS home screen (like you would on any Safari web app), after which it functionally behaves like any other iOS app is.

How would you “install” the Luna web app on your iOS home screen.

While Amazon is almost certainly not capable of producing full-native networks, running into some technical limitations, the Luna web app experience is good enough that if I didn’t know in advance that it was a web app, I probably won’t. Have guessed. Until now, it just worked – except perhaps for the time when we had to turn our Bluetooth on and off when the app forgot that it was paired with our controllers.

Library

Amazon is launching its Luna Plus game channel – which costs $ 5.99 per month during its initial price – with 50 games, with the promise of starting more. Here is the complete collection till now:

50 sports current available in the Luna Plus channel.

There are some big titles out there, including Control, Metro: Exodus, Grid, Boom Chain, Sonic mania, To SteamWorld Sports, and more. It’s not as impressive a lineup as Microsoft’s xCloud library (which offers over 100 games), but it’s still early for Amazon’s service. Adding the game is theoretically easier for Luna than Studia: Google requires developers to migrate to their Linux servers, while Amazon is using the Windows box.

Although, it is playing Windows games, but there is not yet a way to bring your PC savegames along for the ride. This is one of the biggest benefits of xCloud (which can sync with your Xbox library) and Nvidia’s GeForce Now, which can primarily sync with Steam and Epic.

Luna is also up to you to pay for the “channel” of the bundled game. Instead of an all-you-can-eat price (like Netflix or, more contextually, XCloud) that gives you access to everything in the service, Luna operates more like cable, where you group groups of channels together You will be able to bundle access to the game.

But like cable, you have to work in those channel groups, at least for now. In early access, Luna offers only channels. So if you want to play only one Ubisoft game, for example, you have to pay for the entire Ubisoft catalog when it appears on the service.

App functionality

Luna apps (and web apps) are very bare at the moment. There is a home menu for resuming games you’ve already started, a library that lists all the games used in your subscription, your favorite games, a search bar and the settings menu to save A “playlist” menu.

Choosing a game gives an indication of how Amazon can take advantage of Luna in the future, with live Twitch streams of whatever game you’re watching, but for now the full extent of any integration with Twitch is. Right now, there is no way to stream lunch games directly to Twitch, nor any option to integrate the player’s existing Twitch game library into Luna.

Luna’s Twitch Stream UI.

Finally, Luna allows players to easily jump from one device to another, but with a fairly large grip: you can easily just say an iPhone to a PC, if you’re still actively playing games on your phone Are running. Once you “quit” a game, there is no quick-restart functionality; You will have to wait for the game to completely relax. Hopefully, you survived before you left.

Additional tests by Sean Hallister.

Photography by Chaim Gartenberg / The Verge

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