Amazon Prime members can now play Devil May Cry 5 in their browser

Game streaming service Amazon Luna has exited its early access phase in the US mainland, and Amazon Prime members can now try it out at no additional charge.

Luna is similar to Google Stadia, except that there is no a la carte purchase of games: like Prime Video, Luna consists of subscription “channels” that offer access to themed collections of games for a monthly fee. A $6/month Luna+ subscription gives you access to the service’s core library, which includes games like Dirt 5, Control, and Metro Exodus, while the $3/month family channel, for example, offers games like Skatebird and Garfield Kart.

With today’s launch, Amazon has added a $5/month Jackbox channel with each Jackbox Party Pack, a $5/month retro channel with games like Metal Slug 3 and Castlevania Anniversary Collection, and Amazon Prime Channel, which is free for Prime members.

Right now, Prime Channel includes Phogs!, Devil May Cry 5, Flashback, and Observer: System Redux. These games will be available until April, after which a new bundle will be introduced: The King of Fighters ’98 Ultimate Match Final Edition, Amnesia Rebirth, Tracks: Toybox Edition, and Mortal Shell. Starting March 8th, Immortals: Fenix Rising will also be available to play on the Prime Channel until March 15th.

I tried Devil May Cry 5 in Chrome and had no problem: I pressed the button, the game launched, and it even recognized my Xbox wireless controller when I turned it on. A few seconds later, I was playing DMC5 at 1080p—kind of neat, to be honest.

But it’s not something I would use regularly. According to Amazon, the free Prime games can be played at 60fps, but I was definitely looking at 30fps, which was fine in cutscenes but offended my refined PC gaming sensibilities when I cut the demons. There was also an ugly graininess that could have been the result of an intentional post-processing filter on Capcom’s part, but notably, there is no way to change the graphics settings. Now for me, this is an unacceptable gaming experience on PC.

Above: Devil May Cry 5 gameplay filmed via Luna. Please don’t mind that I’m bad at this.

Of course, I don’t do my calculations on potatoes, and overall, Luna performs alarmingly well. Input lag didn’t really seem like a problem. I use fiber internet from the heart of Silicon Valley, so I’m the best customer, but there’s no physical law preventing streaming technology and internet infrastructure from getting better over time. After trying Luna, I became even more convinced that streaming could replace most consoles and gaming PCs within a decade or two, as unappetizing as that sounds.

However, I would not say that the netflixification of games is inevitable. The business models are still experimental and mostly not very attractive at the moment. I don’t want to buy individual Google Stadia games that I can only play via streaming, but at the same time, I don’t want a game I’ve played for years to disappear from a subscription channel like those offered by Luna. (Unfortunately for opponents of industry consolidation, part of what makes Microsoft PC Game Pass attractive is that games made by many developers he owns are unlikely to leave the service as long as it exists.) It also seems to be a problem for cloud streaming that many of the world’s most popular games – Fortnite, League of Legends, Destiny 2, Apex Legends, etc. – do not require hardware-software powerful by today’s standards. What’s the point of streaming them?

Follow @Twitch 👾 Click the 🖱 Start Playing button 🎮 When you see a game available on Luna on Twitch, click the Play on Luna button to start playing it. It is so simple. Pretty cool, right? pic.twitter.com/kCXp9nAKpJMarch 1, 2022

To learn more

One of the arguments put forward by Google when they announced Stadia is that remote rendering of the entire game opens up new possibilities for game design. For example, it becomes possible to instantly share game states, allowing someone to go from watching a live stream of a game to playing the same part of the game on their own. As far as I can tell, Amazon hasn’t added anything as fancy, but it has added a “Play on Luna” button to the Twitch game streams available on the platform. From today’s launch, you can also stream Luna gameplay directly to Twitch. (I’ve noticed that the word “stream” gets problematic when it comes to living cloud streaming games. We may have to find some new terminology.)

In April, the subscription price for Luna+ will increase from $6 to $10, and for Family Channel from $3 to $6. However, those who subscribe to one or both channels before the end of March can keep the original price as long as they keep their subscription. If you are a Prime member, you can see the games available to you here.

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