Amazon Luna vs. Google Stadia: what’s the difference?

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An in-depth look at Google and Amazon’s game streaming services

Amazon Luna and Google Stadia are both game streaming services that let you play the latest games, as well as your old favorites, without having to invest in a game console or computer. Amazon and Google both leverage their massive cloud computing power to deliver low-latency gaming to your computer or phone, but they take very different approaches. Here’s what you need to know to make a choice between Amazon Luna and Google Stadia.

General findings

Amazon Luna

  • Works with Chrome and Safari browsers on PC and Mac, Safari browser on iOS, 2nd generation and newer Fire TV devices.
  • The subscription includes access to a library of over 70 games.
  • No need to buy games.
  • Only 1080p streaming on early access.
  • Proprietary low latency controller.

Google Stadia

  • Works with Chrome browser, select Android phones, select iPhones, and Chromecast Ultra.
  • Free games every month with a subscription.
  • You need to buy additional games.
  • Stream in 4K if your internet connection allows it.
  • Proprietary low latency controller.

Amazon Luna is an all-you-can-eat subscription service in the vein of Netflix, while Google Stadia works more like a storefront, like Steam. A Luna subscription gives you access to the entire game library (over 70) for as long as you remain a subscriber, while a Stadia Pro subscription gets you one or two free games per month, and you must buy whatever interests you.

Once you get past the very different business models, these services are very similar. They both take advantage of huge global cloud computing networks, they both work with web browsers on desktops and mobile devices, and they both work with the respective streaming hardware produced by their parent companies. Stadia offers games in higher 4K resolution, but Luna should fill this gap before leaving Access early.

Hardware Requirements: Stadia works with older operating systems

Amazon Luna

  • Windows 10 (with DirectX 11)
  • macOS 10.13+
  • FireTV device (Fire TV Stick 2nd gen, Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube 2nd Gen)
  • Chrome web browser (version 83+) on PC or Mac
  • Safari web browser (iOS 14) for iPhone and iPad
  • A compatible controller, or a mouse and keyboard.

Google Stadia

  • Windows 7 or higher (Chrome browser).
  • macOS 10.9 or higher (Chrome browser)
  • Chromecast Ultra.
  • Compatible Android phone (Android 6.0 or newer).
  • Compatible iPhone (iOS 11.0 or newer).
  • A compatible controller.

Luna and Stadia have similar requirements, but Stadia is designed to work with older operating systems. Luna only works with Windows 10 during Early Access, while you can play Stadia on a Windows 7 computer through the Chrome browser. Likewise, Luna requires MacOS 10.13 or higher, while Stadia works with MacOS 10.9 or higher.

As for mobiles, Luna requires iOS 14 for the iPhone and iPad, while Stadia requires iOS 11 or newer. Stadia also works with compatible Android phones running Android 6.0 or newer, while Luna does not support Android phones or tablets during Early Access.

Luna has wider device streaming support than Stadia, as it works with all devices. Fire TV from 2nd gen and newer, while Stadia requires Chromecast Ultra.

Stadium is the best bet if you’re using slightly older hardware or an Android phone, but it’s likely that Luna’s requirements will decrease once Early Access ends.

Input methods: Similar, but stadiums provide more support for controllers

Amazon Luna

  • Designed for the Luna low latency controller.
  • No controller clip available during early access.
  • Works with Xbox one and DualShock 4 controllers.
  • Xbox One and DualShock 4 controllers are compatible with select Fire TV devices.
  • Compatible with mouse and keyboard.

Google Stadia

  • Designed for low latency stadium controllers.
  • Stadium checker clip available.
  • Also works with most Bluetooth and USB controllers.
  • Chromecast Ultra only works with the Stadia controller.

Luna and Stadia have very similar input methods. Both services have their own proprietary Wi-Fi controllers with built-in lag reduction technology. Unlike USB and Bluetooth controllers which connect to a device first and then to the server through that device, Luna and Stadia’s controller connects directly to your wireless router over Wi-Fi and sends your inputs directly to game servers without a computer, phone or streaming device to mediate.

The technology of Luna’s and Stadia’s controllers is similar, as is the overall design. The biggest difference is that the Stadia has symmetrical placement of analog controllers like a Sony DualShock controller, while the Luna has asymmetric placement like an Xbox One or Nintendo Switch pro controller.

Stadia is announcing wider controller support than Luna, which Amazon says will only work with Xbox One and DualShock 4 controllers. However, the Chromecast Ultra only works with the Stadia controller. If you have a compatible Fire TV device, you can use the Luna controller, or just an Xbox One or DualShock 4 controller.

Internet requirements: Both services are identical

Amazon Luna

  • Broadband internet connection is required.
  • 10 Mbps required (35+ Mbps for 4K).
  • Amazon reports 10 GB / hr data usage for 1080p streaming.

Google Stadia

  • Broadband internet connection is required.
  • 10 Mbps required (35+ Mbps recommended for 4K streaming).
  • Google reports between 4.5 and 20 GB of data used per hour.

Luna and Stadia have identical internet requirements, with a high speed internet connection of at least 10 Mbps for download as the bare minimum. Both services also recommend a minimum of 35 Mbps for streaming over 4K, with faster connections allowing better graphics fidelity and superior performance.

Game library: Everyone approaches the offers differently

Amazon Luna

  • Free access to the entire Luna library with subscription.
  • Additional subscription for additional games, like the Ubisoft Channel.
  • Over 70 games available during early access.

Google Stadia

  • Free games every month with Stadia pro.
  • You need to buy additional games.
  • Over 100 games available for purchase.

The most important factor to consider here is that Luna and Stadia have different approaches to their game libraries. Amazon Luna works on the Netflix model, as does Xbox GamePass, while Google Stadia has a more traditional storefront.

During early access, the Luna library includes over 70 games. There is no need to purchase them individually, as your monthly subscription allows you to play all the games in the Luna library as much as you want. You also have the option of adding additional games to the roster by paying extra. For example, a subscription to the Ubisoft channel gives you access to old hits and brand new releases from Ubisoft.

Google Stadia has a bigger library, with over 100 games available, but not all of you can play them for free. Stadia Pro subscribers receive at least one free game per month, which is added to their library as a purchased game, but other games must be purchased. Non-subscribers must also purchase games to play them.

In this category, Luna takes the advantage, because the monthly subscription represents a fairly large sum for access to more than 70 games. It’s a relatively small library overall, however, so make sure it has a few titles that interest you before signing up.

Graphics and performance: Stadia takes the win hands down

Amazon Luna

  • Streaming in 1080p at launch, 4K arriving later.
  • Runs on Amazon’s massive AWS cloud hosting network.
  • The Wi-Fi controller transmits the inputs directly to the servers.

Google Stadia

  • Capable of 4K video at 60 FPS.
  • 7,500 edge nodes from which to stream continuously.
  • The Wi-Fi controller transmits the inputs directly to the servers.

With 4K streaming at 60 FPS, Google Stadia wins in the graphics department. Amazon Luna only supports 1080p streaming during early access, with 4K streaming planned for a later date, and only on certain titles. If you have a rock-solid internet connection and graphics fidelity is your number one concern, then Stadia has a major advantage in this area.

Amazon Luna is likely to catch up in terms of graphics as the service matures, but it is not yet clear if it will perform well. Google Stadia has over 7,500 edge nodes to connect to its cloud platform and stream Stadia games, while Amazon’s massive cloud network is capped at 217 points of presence across the globe. There are approximately 70 Amazon cloud edge nodes in North America, along with three regional edge caches.

This means that you are closer to a Stadia server than a Luna server. Since proximity to the server plays an important role in performance, you are more likely to have better performance with Stadia. The reality of the situation may turn out to be different as the services mature, and there’s always a chance you’ll have a stronger connection with your local Amazon server, but that’s exactly what the numbers say.

Final verdict: the jury is out, but Luna looks like the best deal

Stadia has a few advantages over Luna: it works with any Bluetooth or USB controller, boasts a lot more edge nodes, and is capable of streaming in 4K. However, playing with a Bluetooth or USB controller introduces a lot of lag, Amazon’s network is large enough to provide similar performance in most cases, and 4K support is on the horizon for Luna.

Luna is winning this fight from a value standpoint, offering access to over 70 games for less than the Stadia Pro membership which offers one or two free games per month. Asking people to pay full retail price to buy games on Stadia is a bit of a tough task, as the Netflix model used by Luna and Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass is much more appealing to anyone trying to play on a budget. through a streaming service rather than investing in an expensive console or gaming PC.




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