Amazon’s recently announced Luna streaming service will run Windows games on a standard Amazon Web Services EC2 G4 instance, the company told Ars Technica during a panel discussion. These sport server instances Nvidia T4 GPU equipped with 320 Turing Tensor Cores and the support of Nvidia GRID Virtualization Drivers.
Luna’s server architecture is very different from that of Google’s Stadia, which uses Linux-based data servers and Vulkan’s open source graphics APIs. This means extra work for Stadia developers who need to port their existing games to the Stadia environment, which can sometimes lead to an apparent graphics issue.
The precise amount of porting work required for a Stadia port may vary. A game like Loss (2016), which already supported Vulkan graphics, would have taken only three weeks of full-time work for two developers to get started on Stadia. Corn Cyberpunk 2077 will arrive on Stadia after Windows and console launch, according to CD publisher Projekt Red, likely due to the extra porting effort.
Amazon hopes to avoid this problem with Luna. “Our goal is to make porting games as easy as possible” for developers, Amazon Luna chief product officer Oliver Messenger told Ars Technica. “We will support existing Windows games … [Developers] you don’t need a new tech stack for porting. If there is a Windows version of their games, they can bring them to our service quickly. “
Luna game ports also won’t have to add specific code to support Luna-specific social networking, matchmaking, or achievement systems, as these do not exist. Instead, Luna developers can use the existing services they already use for these features; for the Ubisoft channel, this will mean, for example, relying on UPlay. It’s unclear what this will mean for games that currently rely on Steam or other platform-level third-party solutions that might not integrate well with Luna.
Optimization for the browser
For iOS compatibility, Luna bypasses Apple’s onerous rules for streaming game applications by running as Progressive web application directly in the browser. Luna’s chief engineering officer, George Tsipolitis, said Luna’s team has prioritized this compatibility on iOS, “working[ing] with the Safari team to make sure that from a web perspective we’re getting the right video pipeline optimizations and extensive controller support “on the mobile browser.” As soon as we get that through access anticipated working as expected, we will bring that to Android as well. “
Tsipolitis said any additional overhead due to running in a web browser would not be significant for a streaming game service like Luna. The open source WebRTC protocol that Luna uses for server-to-player communication (and vice versa) works the same in the browser and in a native app, he said. This protocol will also allow Luna to monitor network conditions and adjust streaming quality on the fly to account for congestion and provide “low latency, high fidelity” gameplay. However, Amazon did not respond directly to questions about how much control latency users could expect on the service.
If Apple changes its rules for streaming game apps in the App Store, Tsipolitis said Amazon would consider moving Luna away from the browser. But “a lot depends on the evolution of rules and guidelines,” he said. “We want to create a great experience for customers. “
Other elements of our conversations:
- Tsipolitis said support for 4K graphics will be up to individual developers, depending on the performance they’ve seen on their Luna development kits. “If they have achieved the expected performance, we will send them to customers,” he said.
- The range of games on the $ 5.99 Luna + subscription is expected to drop from 50 at launch to 100 by the end of the invite-only early access period. After that, the prices may change and the game selection may start rotating through a selection of available titles (rather than just getting bigger). Amazon says it will clearly communicate such changes well in advance.
- There is currently no system in place to allow players to take their save data with them should they decide to leave Luna. But Messenger said the freedom to switch between devices without paying a penalty is “something we think about a lot” and we expect “more information to be available soon.”
- There are currently no plans to offer Stadia-style pay-per-view game purchases on Luna; all games will be available through various subscription “channels”.
- Luna will support up to four local controllers for multiplayer games in one room.
List image by Amazon