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Initial Impressions of Amazon's Luna, a Cloud-Based Game Streaming Service

 A lot of you who follow my content are familiar with how I'm an absolute geek over cloud-based game streaming services like Stadia, and so Amazon's Luna was a welcome competitive answer to it. I've been trying the service over the past few days and I have some initial impressions about it.

Initial Impressions of Amazon Luna

Positives

Initial impressions of Amazon Luna

initial impressions of Amazon Luna


Right off the bat, I think that Luna has a much stronger user interface than Stadia. Google's streaming service was originally marred by very large game icons that seemed to compensate for the lack of titles on the platform's launch. That's not to say Luna is much better; it's still an image grid, but it seems a little more aesthetic because the images are more panoramic than card-like. It's a small gripe, but we're dealing with entertainment here and some people get extremely picky about UI.


initial impressions of Luna
Card-like images don't do well for the games on Stadia.


I'd expect Luna to soon have a search bar just like Stadia does, however, but certainly not in the early stages. Once the library is built, I think that will be a necessary implementation.

Luna also has an awesome feature built-in that was a joy to discover. Since this is Amazon we're talking about, any games you investigate will also include live Twitch streams below the game's introductory screen. It's not an innovative feature by any stretch since browsing by games is already built into Twitch, but it's nice to get impressions of a game just by checking out someone's stream. It also helps with the discoverability factor. That's just another initial impression of Luna that I think gives it some edge to Stadia.

You can start Luna out of the box by downloading the app and submitting for a free trial. Stadia launched with the premiere edition—a package deal of a controller and chromecase which sold for 120 dollars. The only other way to gain Stadia access was to grab a buddy code until Stadia went free for everyone. Paying for hardware up-front without free access to a library of games pales in comparison to Luna's free model, so there's another edge Luna has for people looking to try a cloud-based game streaming service. In order to play on a TV though, I believe you'd need to purchase the Luna controller and pair it with a Fire TV stick. I haven't tested this functionality yet, however.

There's another "access channel" for Luna which is the Ubisoft channel. It's a steep 15 dollars a month, but if your plan is to buy it just to play Valhalla for a month then it's not a bad idea, especially when you compare the base price point of 60 USD for Valhalla (and 15 dollars gets you an Ubisoft library if you can play enough within an entire month). Stadia doesn't have alternative options—either Pro or free, and Pro is actually a pretty good deal considering the titles offered.

Negatives

Luna is a year behind Google's Stadia, so as expected, the library is a little limited in comparison. There's not a lot of notable titles (unless you include Ubisoft's games)—some indie games, 2D platformers, third-person shooters, and some AAA titles thrown in the mix, but the vast majority aren't stunners. It remains to be seen if Cyberpunk 2077 will be an available title at launch, but seen as the platform is in an early stage that doesn't seem to be viable. 

In a Nutshell

Cloud-based game streaming services are heavily considered the cockroaches of gaming currently for a myriad of reasons. Many people don't agree with how they're considered "rental" services since you're not actually owning anything, but I prefer them a lot over expensive consoles that consume power, desk space, and credit card balances.

In regards to the initial impressions of Luna, I can't see many negatives to this service (in comparison to others) just yet since it's in such infancy. Luna will likely have more titles available since the Twitch playerbase is significantly larger than Google's, but that's just projection at this point.

If you'd like to stop by my stream, I'm typically live 11 AM PST weekends. Thanks for reading.


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