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Amazon Wants You To Buy Its Luna Controller. Should You?

Amazon revealed its Luna cloud gaming service on Sept. 24, 2020, along with a piece of hardware to go with it: the Luna Controller. The Luna Controller is a high-performance product that doesn't pair to a device, but instead connects directly to Amazon's dedicated game servers.

If you like the sound of Luna and want to become an early adopter, you might be wondering if this controller is necessary to optimize your gaming experience. It's only available through early access, so you'll have to sign up and be accepted to that first before you can purchase it. After that, though, you'll have to decide: Is the $50 price tag worth it? Or could you perhaps use a gamepad you already own?

Here are some things we know about the Luna Controller that might influence your decision.

Why the Luna Controller might be better

The Luna Controller does have a few interesting advantages over your regular gaming controller. Because it's designed specifically for Amazon Luna and powered by Cloud Direct technology, it connects directly to Amazon servers when you play. That means it is designed to reduce roundtrip latency by 17-30 milliseconds versus the local Bluetooth connection another type of controller might use.

The pick-up-and-play technology in the controller allows you to switch seamlessly between different screens without having to pair it to another device. It's also outfitted with Alexa, Amazon's AI assistant, so you can simply start a game by saying, "Alexa, play GRID." And you can use Alexa's other smart functions, too, which means you can control your home's mood lighting or find out the weather through your controller. 

You don't even have to use the Luna Controller with Luna, it turns out. You can connect it through Bluetooth or a USB connection to your PCs, Macs, phones, or tablets to play games on those with it. You cannot, unfortunately, use the Luna Controller with gaming consoles.

As for its other features, the Luna Controller looks a bit like the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller and features low-friction thumbsticks and a textured grip. It runs on AA batteries and offers tactile feedback.

But do you really need it?

Hardcore gamers need every advantage they can get, especially in multiplayer games. While the Amazon Luna Controller sounds like it would offer that advantage, the Luna service is so new that no one knows exactly what games might be available and who will be playing them. If the service offers multiplayer games where speed and precision are of the essence, however, the Luna Controller might shine if it works as advertised.

However, you have many options for controlling your Luna-based games. You can use a keyboard and mouse system, Bluetooth controllers, or your current generation Xbox One and PlayStation 4 controllers. At this point, it is still unclear if the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 controllers will be compatible. It's also unclear how many games (if any) will utilize a smartphone's touchscreen instead.

If you have a game controller you like — or if you're planning on handing over a lot of cash for the next console generation — there's probably no reason to run out and get a Luna Controller right away. Still, if you like taking those kinds of risks for a seamless, competitive gaming experience, getting one could be worth the investment.