Walmart’s unannounced cloud gaming service, code-named Project Storm, is detailed in new confidential emails. An exhibition in the Epic Games v Apple trial reveals Walmart’s efforts to pitch and get its cloud gaming service to Epic Games Fortnite on-board.
“I played Walmart’s demo on an Android phone (with an Xbox controller) and the experience felt like playing on PS4 and superior to playing on Android or iOS,” said Epic Games co-founder Mark Rein in an email thread. April 2019. Rein also excitedly shares a photo of a game clip with the rest of the Epic Games executive team, showing how Walmart planned to sell this in stores to pair a phone with a controller. “They’re going to sell the clip for an insanely low price, they said something like $ 2,” Rein said.
A presentation attached to the emails shows how Walmart proposed its cloud gaming service to publishers such as 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 are supported.
It’s not clear from Walmart’s presentation when the company planned to launch the service, with a beta period originally scheduled to launch in July 2019. An early mock-up of the user experience is very similar to other cloud gaming services, with a list of games, genres and a search function.
Walmart envisioned 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 that Walmart has acquired. LiquidSky was previously powered through IBM Cloud’s bare metal servers and Nvidia GPUs, and it appears to provide a powerful Windows PC for cloud gaming.
Epic Games was one of the many publishers that Walmart pitched to. Reports originally surfaced regarding Walmart’s 2019 plans, but the company has still not announced an official cloud gaming service. Sources familiar with Walmart’s plans tell us The edge that some publishers and developers had signed up to produce or host games on Walmart’s service, but the launch had been delayed when the pandemic started last year.
It’s not clear whether Walmart’s cloud gaming service is still launching. We reached out to Walmart to comment on Project Storm, but the company did not respond in time for publication.
Regardless, Mark Rein seemed interested in Walmart’s pitch and exploring services like Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now. “Walmart is open to exploring all kinds of business models, but I expect their service to be the least expensive of all of these because they are Walmart and that’s their performance.”
Epic Games eventually 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.