Amazon has officially announced their latest, somewhat anticipated, expansion plans into the gaming industry, just in time for all of the next-generation console releases.
Over the last decade Amazon has been expanding rapidly into a variety of markets, while making a few moves suggesting potential expansion into the gaming industry. Taking into consideration Amazon’s 2014 Acquisition Of Twitch, and a rising popularity in their game development tools, it almost seems inevitable that they would take part in the video game streaming market.
While console implementations like PlayStation Now & Xbox Game Pass have been relatively stable for years, the desktop & mobile streaming platforms like NVIDIA’s GeForce Now, Microsoft’s xCloud & Google’s Stadia have experienced some bumps and bruises over the last couple of years, trying to button down on consistent connectivity & better lag control. It’s hard to predict how Amazon Luna is going to perform without any demonstrations, but we do know the platform will be powered using AWS (Amazon Web Services) & NVIDIA GPU’s, which are a favorite among PC gamers.
Unsurprisingly, Luna will run on most devices, including:
- Desktops (PC & MacOS)
- Mobile (Android & iOS)
- TVs using Fire TV Devices
Amazon leveraging their Fire TV devices will be similar to Google Stadia running on the Chromecast Ultra for TV use. We predict this will be a big deal for some people, as you can buy the Luna Controller (A device created just for this) and sit back on your couch like you would with a console.
The Luna Controller is powered by Amazon’s game servers and offers competitive latency reduction compared to using Bluetooth connections. The controller is also directly connected to the cloud, so you won’t be pairing with your TV or monitor, allowing for a seamless gaming experience.
It is highly likely you’ve heard about the drama surrounding Apple & their 30% transaction fee that they charge game developers for in-app purchases, resulting in bans, lawsuits, and an anti-trust investigation throughout all the other madness of 2020. Amazon intends to work around that fee by creating a PWA (Progressive Web App), which is a type of application software delivered through the web that can be used as an alternative to mobile and desktop applications. Amazon is yet another company going against what Hey.com developers refer to as Apple “brazenly wielding their monopoly power like a hammer”.
For Amazon, it may be imperative that they cut corners and dodge fees as it’s not expected to be a big revenue driver for the company, based on the analysis reports we’ve read. Granted, Amazon is in little need of more revenue channels, and this major move into the gaming industry will allow them to leave their footprint in yet another market, expanding the Amazon brand that much more.
In terms of pricing, Amazon Luna is taking a slightly different approach than some of its competitors. Stadia’s revenue model is more related to streaming quality, offering 4k in their premium tier (with a rotation of free games) at $9.99/mo, while allowing you to play any games you already own on the free version. Similarly, NVIDIA’s GeForce allows you to play any game you own for free at 1080p & 60FPS, but only in one-hour intervals, making it more like a demo tier. They also offer a $4.99/mo service that gives you six-hour limits & superior GPU’s.
Microsoft’s xCloud is essentially a platform for using their Game Pass & multiplayer services for $14.99/mo, with unlimited access to a very large library of games.
Amazon Luna uses a “channel-based” approach, which will offer unlimited access to that channel’s library of games, effectively allowing publishers to manage their own streaming services. This is expected to be a major hit amongst game publishers after watching multiple groups exit NVIDIA’s GeForce Now in the beginning of 2020 over a lack of control of their own products.
This channel-based approach could very-well be the sole factor that helps Luna overtake its competitors, assuming their technology holds.
The only two channels we know about so far are Luna Plus & Ubisoft. Amazon specifically words the price of Luna Plus as “early access pricing”, which lands at $5.99/mo. The Ubisoft channel, however, does not have a price listed, but does say “Coming soon!”.
It’s worth noting that Amazon’s AWS availability zones (data centers) are among some of the best in the world, and many technology companies depend on their servers for operation, which gives me major confidence in their streaming service.
Back in 2014 Amazon acquired Twitch for nearly $1B, and of course will be integrating Luna with this streaming service in the near future. Google Stadia did something similar this year, integrating with YouTube Gaming, which we’re predicting to have had a smaller effect on their gaming service than Twitch will for Luna.
In fact, Twitch has accounted for nearly 2/3 of the streaming market this year, with over 3 times as many streaming hours as YouTube Gaming. If Amazon is able to leverage their Twitch customer-base for Luna, they may very well have a chance at taking the lead in the video game streaming market.
It’s too early to say whether Amazon Luna will be a great product or not, but if we’re to consider Amazon’s history with cloud technology, there’s a good chance they will knock this out of the park. Google’s Stadia was an absolute disaster upon first launch, and often times the last one to the party has learned from their competitors mistakes, so that’s worth keeping in mind as well.
If you’re as excited as I am for this, and want to request early access, just visit https://www.amazon.com/luna/landing-page and find their sign up button. Early access is by invitation only, at the moment.
We expect a lot more details to emerge over the coming months, and hopefully we’ll get a glimpse of what other channels may be coming to the platform, so stay tuned for more information.