In new confidential emails, Walmart’s unannounced cloud gaming service, codenamed Project Storm, has been detailed. Walmart’s efforts to pitch its cloud gaming service to Epic Games and get Fortnite on board are revealed in an exhibit in the Epic Games vs Apple trial.
Epic Games co-founder Mark Rein said “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,” in an email thread from April 2019. Rein also shows the rest of the Epic Games executive team a photo of a game clip, demonstrating how Walmart planned to sell this in stores to enable a phone to connect to a controller. “They’re going to sell the clip for a crazy low amount, they were saying something like $2,” said Rein.
According to a presentation attached to the emails, Walmart had been pitching its cloud gaming service to publishers including Epic Games. The service was set to run on Windows, with support for third-party game launchers such as Steam, Uplay, Origin, Epic Games Store, Battle.net, and Bethesda Launcher.
Walmart’s presentation did not specify when the company intended to launch the service, but a testing phase was originally scheduled to begin in July 2019. With a list of games, genres, and a search function, an early mock-up of the user experience looks quite similar to other cloud gaming services.
Last year, Epic Games collaborated with Nvidia to launch Fortnite on GeForce Now. It’s the only way to play Fortnite on iOS right now, due to Epic’s legal battle with Apple, which resulted in the game’s exclusion from the App Store.
Walmart was working on an “open environment” that would allow customers to stream content from the cloud or download and play games locally. LiquidSky, a service Walmart acquired, is the technology behind Walmart’s cloud gaming service. Previously, LiquidSky was operated by IBM Cloud’s bare metal servers and Nvidia GPUs, and it now appears to deliver a strong Windows PC for cloud gaming.
Some publishers and developers had already signed up to create or host games on Walmart’s service, according to sources familiar with the company’s plans, but the launch was placed on hold after the pandemic broke out last year and It’s still not clear if Walmart’s cloud gaming service will still launch.