Walmart’s unannounced cloud gaming service, named Project Storm, has been detailed in new confidential emails. An exhibition in the Epic Games contre Apple trial reveals Walmart’s efforts to showcase its cloud gaming service to Epic Games and get Fortnite on board.
“I played the Walmart demo on an Android phone (with an Xbox controller) and the experience was like playing on PS4 and higher than playing on Android or iOS,” Epic Games co-founder said, Mark Rein, in a discussion thread in April 2019. Rein also enthusiastically shares a photo of a game clip with the rest of the Epic Games management team, showing how Walmart plans to sell it in stores for let a phone connect to a controller. “They’re going to sell the clip for a really low amount, they were saying something like $ 2,” Rein said.
A presentation attached to the emails shows how Walmart pitched its cloud gaming service to publishers like Epic Games. The company planned to run the service on Windows, with third-party game launchers such as Steam, Uplay, Origin, Epic Games Store, Battle.net, and Bethesda Launcher supported.
It is not clear from Walmart’s presentation when the company planned to launch the service, with a beta period initially slated for July 2019. A first user experience mockup looks a lot like other cloud gaming services, with a listing of games, genres and a search function.
Walmart was planning what it describes as an “open ecosystem,” with the ability to stream from the cloud or download and play games locally. The technology behind Walmart’s cloud gaming service is LiquidSky, a service acquired by Walmart. LiquidSky was previously powered by IBM Cloud’s bare metal servers and Nvidia GPUs, and it appears to offer a powerful Windows PC for cloud gaming.
Epic Games was one of the many publishers that Walmart approached. Reports initially surfaced of Walmart’s plans in 2019, but the company still hasn’t officially announced a cloud gaming service. Sources familiar with Walmart’s plans tell The edge that some publishers and developers had signed up to produce or host games on Walmart’s service, but the launch was put on hold after the pandemic began last year.
It is not clear whether Walmart’s cloud gaming service will still be launched. We reached out to Walmart for comment on Project Storm, but the company did not respond in time for the post.
Regardless, Mark Rein seemed interested in the Walmart pitch and exploring services like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now. “Walmart is open to exploring all kinds of business models, but I think their service will be the cheapest of all, because they’re Walmart and that’s their mission.”
Epic Games has finally teamed up with Nvidia to launch Fortnite on GeForce Now last year. It is currently the only way to play Fortnite on iOS, after the Epic dispute with Apple led to the removal of Fortnite from the App Store.