Walmart’s unannounced cloud gaming service, codenamed Project Storm, has been described in new confidential emails. An exhibition in Epic Games against Apple trial reveals Walmart’s efforts to put 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 felt like playing on PS4 and better than playing on Android or iOS,” Epic Games co-founder Mark Rein said in an email thread from April 2019. Rein also enthusiastically shares a photo of a game clip with the rest of the Epic Games management team showing how Walmart planned to sell this in stores to have a phone attached to a controller. “They want to sell the clip for a crazy low amount, they said something like $ 2,”
A presentation attached to emails shows how Walmart had thrown its cloud game service to publishers like Epic Games. The company planned to run the service on Windows with the support of third-party launchers such as Steam, Uplay, Origin, Epic Games Store, Battle.net and Bethesda Launcher.
It is not clear from Walmart’s presentation when the company planned to launch the service, with a beta period originally launched 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 feature .
Walmart planned 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 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 many publishers that Walmart hit. Reports initially surfaced of Walmart’s plans in 2019, but the company still has not officially announced any cloud service. Sources familiar with Walmart’s plans say The edge that some publishers and developers had signed up to produce or host games in Walmart’s service, but that the launch was put on hold when the pandemic began last year.
It’s not clear if Walmart’s cloud service is still starting. We reached out to Walmart to comment on Project Storm, but the company did not respond in time for publication.
Either way, 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 cheapest of all these because they are Walmart and that’s their concert.”
Epic Games eventually partnered with Nvidia to launch Fortnite on GeForce Now last year. It’s 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.