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Epic v. Apple trial surfaces Walmart's rumored 'Project Storm' streaming service

Epic v. Apple trial surfaces Walmart's rumored 'Project Storm' streaming service

May 4, 2021 | By Chris Kerr

Walmart's unannounced cloud gaming service codenamed 'Project Storm' has been detailed in confidential emails shown during the Epic Games vs. Apple trial. 

Back in 2019 it was rumored that Walmart had been courting developers and publishers with a view to breaking into the game streaming business, and now an email chain from Epic co-founder Mark Rein has confirmed those reports. 

In an email thread sent in April 2019, as highlighted by The Verge, Rein explained he'd been hands on  Project Storm and said the "experience felt like playing on PS4 and superior to playing on Android or iOS." 

The co-founder said he'd played Walmart's demo on an Android phone using an Xbox controller, and also shared video footage with other Epic executives that showed how the retailer intended to sell a cheap clip that would let users attach a controller to their phone. “They’re going to sell the clip for a crazy low amount," he noted. "They were saying something like $2."

Presentation slides attached to Rein's emails (shown below) laid out some of Walmart's plans for the service, explaining how it would feature support for third-party launchers like Steam, Origin, and the Epic Games Store, a selection of triple-A and indie games, and an "intuitive customer experience to allow easy access to any content."

The company said it wanted to let users "play on any device, anywhere," and was seemingly floating the idea of multiple monetization models including subscriptions, individual game purchases, and a "bring your own game" option. 

Although its unclear whether Project Storm has since been shelved by Walmart, Mark Rein was evidently interested in the idea of a streaming platform that he believed would have undercut some of the competition. 

"Walmart is open to exploring all kinds of business models," he wrote, "but I expect their service will be the least expensive of all of these because they’re Walmart and that’s their gig."

Other documents from the trial, which kicked off on May 3, have revealed how much Epic paid for its Epic Games Store exclusives, how Sony chose to support cross-play after devising a 'compensation' policy, and more insights into Fortnite's mammoth revenue figures.

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