We tested Amazon Luna: Is the new cloud gaming service worth it? – Frandroid

Can Amazon succeed in democratizing the practice of cloud gaming among gamers with Luna? Now that the service has launched in France, let’s see what it has to offer.

We tested Amazon Luna Is the new cloud gaming serviceSource: Amazon

The cloud gaming sector is booming. The dismal failure of Google Stadia has reshuffled the cards in such a way that the market is still in its infancy. Currently, Nvidia (GeForce Now) and Microsoft (Xbox Cloud Gaming) largely dominate the market, while competitors like PlayStation are pretty far behind.

Amazon launched its cloud gaming service Luna in the US last year. A year later, it is the turn of France and several other European countries to gain access to the service. Will Amazon, with its Prime Video service, already culturally well established in France, succeed in becoming the main player in video games, as it has always wanted?

A clear offer, but still weak

Because Luna is an Amazon service, it uses the same operations as a platform like Prime Video. So you’ll find a basic offering called Prime Gaming with two games that last forever (Fortnite and Trackmania), as well as a handful of games that can vary from month to month. We had to keep it simple with a fiasco like Google Stadia, which didn’t make its economic model clear to users who weren’t yet used to cloud gaming.

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At the heart of the offer is Luna+, a subscription for 9.99 euros per month that gives you access to 100 games. In addition to the titles included in Prime Gaming, you’ll find a selection of games ranging from triple-A blockbusters to narrative or multiplayer indie games. At launch you can already play titles like Batman Arkham Knight, Control, Resident Evil 2, Devil May Cry 5, but also titles like Moving Out, Tetris Effect, Yakuza, Metal Slug X, The Forgotten City or even Citizen Sleeper.

As with any subscription service, games will come and go depending on their popularity among subscribers, but also according to the licenses granted by publishers. If we expect a cloud gaming service to allow us to play gourmet games from anywhere, it is also important to offer players different experiences, between independent nuggets and timeless classics that never go out of style. will have no problems running in the cloud.

Finally, Luna’s flagship offer is the Ubisoft + subscription, which for 17.99 euros per month allows you to play a large part of the Ubisoft games catalog, namely the latest titles in the Assassin’s Creed saga (including the latest, Mirage) from Far Cry or even Rainbow Six and The Division.

1701447516 254 We tested Amazon Luna Is the new cloud gaming serviceOnce the account is synced, your Ubisoft games will be available on Luna

But the great strength of this partnership between Amazon Luna and the French publisher lies in the possibility of synchronizing your Ubisoft account to access the games in its library for free. You don’t have to be a Ubisoft+, Luna+, or even Amazon Prime subscriber to play your Ubisoft games in the cloud. This is part of the publisher’s overall strategy, which, like Bethesda (Skyrim first), wants to make its games available on as many platforms as possible. We estimate.

A user-friendly service

Once you are connected to your Amazon Luna account, the service works in the browser on your computer and smartphone. The only dedicated applications are available on Amazon devices (Fire TV, Fire Tablet) and Samsung and LG TVs. The manufacturer confirmed to us that a browser like Chrome is completely sufficient for an optimal experience on Luna and does not immediately plan to offer dedicated applications for PC or Mac, as is the case with GeForce Now, for example.

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The interface stays true to the Amazon experience, putting your current games first and suggesting choices in successive carousels. The titles are classified by genre (retro, shooter, adventure, etc.) but also by subscription (Luna+, Ubisoft+, Jackbox Games). So far, it’s no surprise that you’ll be able to see which games you have access to directly through the Library page, which brings together both the games included in your subscription and the games you own through Ubisoft (and soon other publishers, we hope). have.

On each gaming page you will also find current broadcasts on Twitch, the streaming platform managed by Amazon. Like Google Stadia with YouTube, Luna will be a good way for Amazon to introduce Twitch to the general public, especially since it is possible to stream any part of the service with just a few clicks.

Finally, with the Luna Couch functionality it’s even possible to play with multiple people remotely in the same game, similar to Steam’s Remote Play Together option. It’s super easy to use and allows you to play games like Moving Out or Overcooked with your friends in just a few clicks. Very convenient.

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What does it look like in the game?

When introducing the service, Amazon told us that it wanted to offer a plug & play service without additional configuration. In the options there is a simple definition setting between 720p and 1080p and that’s it. We are once again a long way from GeForce Now and its many settings. This has its pros and cons, but has the advantage of providing users with a simplified experience.

Note that Amazon’s servers run on an Nvidia GPU, the Tesla T4 introduced in 2018. This is the equivalent of RTX 2000 graphics cards, but for computing and AI. So we are relying on an architecture that is a bit outdated, but is still widely used in server farms.

The sticking point with cloud gaming services is latency, but of course this depends on the type of game. We tested four different games on the service: Fortnite, Control, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and Batman Arkham Knight. Some are full versions for the PC, others are versions with fewer settings, like the console versions.

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The games start more or less quickly, especially if you are a Luna+ subscriber. For example, we sometimes had to wait a minute or two for a Ubisoft title. And since it is sometimes the PC version, especially Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, you are entitled to all sorts of parameters to customize your experience. But in this particular case, exceeding the middle setting systematically leads to stuttering.

For titles like Control or Batman Arkham Knight, graphics customization is not possible, so we’re more likely to go with console versions or versions specifically configured for cloud gaming.

1701447523 747 We tested Amazon Luna Is the new cloud gaming serviceA game as demanding as Control is inevitably graphically limited on Luna

The experience was compelling, but seems optimized for solo play at the moment. In Fortnite, there are frame rate drops every time you start the game, which we don’t find in the native versions. These up-and-down displays last for a few more minutes before disappearing, but still remain quite a handicap in such a competitive game.

Overall, the most demanding games run between 30 and 45 frames per second, which is not ideal for a smooth and stable experience and, above all, is well below what GeForce Now can offer. But again, we don’t take the same approach to cloud gaming.

We were pleasantly surprised in terms of latency. While it is easily noticeable in a game like Fortnite, we feel it very little in another like Assassin’s Creed, which has a certain sluggishness in its animations. We tested the three configurations: with a keyboard and mouse, with the Luna controller (which we’ll tell you about shortly) and with a DualSense controller connected via Bluetooth.

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However, we were disappointed with the quality of the stream on the big screen, which sometimes results in fluid textures and a certain lack of sharpness, even with an ultra-fast fiber connection. If we can justify this observation with the maximum resolution supported by the service (1080p), we are still observing a deficit in image quality that is due to the service’s compression and not just this definition. We are currently quite far from a native image and expect that the strength of Amazon’s infrastructures can offer much more.

The Luna controller

Just like Google Stadia at the time, Amazon offered its own controller that was connected directly to the cloud. This theoretically reduces latency since the controller works over WiFi and doesn’t go through your computer to validate inputs.

1701447526 482 We tested Amazon Luna Is the new cloud gaming serviceSource: Amazon

Note that other Bluetooth controllers, such as those from Sony or Xbox, can also be used. Luna detects them automatically, but you don’t get the latency benefits of Cloud Connect. We’ve tested both scenarios and the advantage is there, even for a game like Fortnite, even if we’re not quite at the level of local rendering yet.

The validation process is carried out through the Manette Luna mobile application. This will first ask you to pair your controller as a Bluetooth device and then connect to your Wi-Fi network. Once connected, the controller will be recognized by Luna directly when you start the service on any support.

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In the hand, the Luna controller reminds us of a mix between the Xbox series and the Nintendo Switch. In particular, the triggers are quite similar to Nintendo’s, while the main buttons are halfway between them. However, the directional pad is very stiff and quite obviously unresponsive.

Promising beginnings, but the road will be long

Amazon Luna aims to be an accessible service that is less technical to use than GeForce Now and just as easy to understand as its own Prime Video. With a clear offering and an extremely affordable surfing experience, new users won’t be lost.

The catalog is still quite limited for this launch with around a hundred games, including a handful of really interesting games. We know that Amazon is currently contacting numerous publishers to fill its offering and therefore expect the catalog to expand over time. But as it stands, it is currently uncompetitive. However, the partnership with Ubisoft is a real plus, allowing players to play their Ubisoft games in the cloud for free as long as they are on another platform. A practice we would like to see democratized.

Technically speaking, Amazon Luna performs relatively well, with good execution speed and often good latency. The quality of the stream seemed disappointing to us, well below what GeForce Now can also offer. We believe Amazon still has something on its plate knowing the capabilities of its AWS infrastructure, so we can expect developments in this area as well.

Mixed results therefore for this launch of Amazon Luna, which, thanks to the aura of Amazon, should however help to democratize the cloud gaming market among the general public, but at the moment does not convince us in terms of the gaming experience and the catalog. We will definitely be following Luna closely!