Walmart is exploring the possibility of building on its current media holdings with a new streaming gaming service, according to recent reports citing unspecified sources close to the project. The retail giant is said to have been in talks with both developers and publishers about its prospects since early on in the year and had representatives at GDC 2019 for that purpose as well.
Details on the ground about Walmart's proposed platform are still slim, but it is thought that it will be based almost entirely in the cloud.
Vudu for games?
In terms of technology, Walmart may be one of only a few companies that are in a position to put up a real fight in the reemerging streaming game market.
Not only are its inventory and database systems renowned in the retail world. The company lays claim to a search tool called Cruxlux that is designed to seek out patterns in order to link together people, places, and things, launched in 2007.
Walmart Labs, conversely, employs over 6,00 people and is the hub for digital activity for the company.
Setting aside Walmart's Missouri database and its over 460 trillion bytes of data, the company also has at least one foot already through the media streaming door. The online video storage, delivery, and media company VUDU is just one of several other technology-specific companies that happen to fall under its corporate umbrella. In short, that means that Walmart already has a place to start building out its gaming service and it could follow a similar model.
Content on the streaming side of VUDU can be rented or purchased and streamed via a number of platforms from game consoles to smart TVs and through Google Play Movies, among others. It's also compatible with platforms that support 4K UHD and 3D output, with audio support for Dolby Atmos immersive surround sound.
In terms of cost, rentals range from a dollar up to six and purchase prices generally range from five dollars to almost $25. Signing up for the service is free, however, and there is a ton of content available for free on the platform too. So Walmart may follow a similar pricing scheme, allowing users to rent or purchase games, with freebies thrown in for subscribers.
Google's innovation has reignited interest in the industry
All of that seems to position the company as one that could feasibly challenge the efforts Google has put into bringing together the best aspects of game streaming and reigniting interest in cloud-based triple-A experiences. It wouldn't necessarily be surprising if Google's work in that space has triggered Walmarts interest in the format and market either since, prior to that service's launch, it was already widely known to be a project under development — under the Project Stream branding.
Dubbed Google Stadia, pricing and certain other aspects of the service have yet to be outlined but it is known that the service will work at a minimum of 15Mbps connection speed and through effectively any iteration of Google Chrome. That includes Chromecast and Chromebooks, with higher speeds netting users up to 4K, 60FPS, and surround sound support.
The almost platform agnostic nature of Stadia is nearly mirrored by the same feature of VUDU. So Walmart could emerge as Stadia's biggest contender if news about its plans are accurate and it chooses to follow a similar path — via virtual database-based consoles.