Exclusive: Walmart is Talking to Developers and Publishers About a Potential Streaming Service
The American retail giant is exploring a jump into the untested video game streaming space.
This article first appeared on USgamer, a partner publication of VG247. Some content, such as this article, has been migrated to VG247 for posterity after USgamer's closure - but it has not been edited or further vetted by the VG247 team.
Google made headlines this week when it announced its arrival into the video game space with a new streaming venture called Stadia. But according to sources, another major corporation is investigating the video game streaming business too, and it's none other than Walmart.
Multiple sources familiar with Walmart's plans, who wish to remain anonymous, confirmed to USG that the retail giant is exploring its own platform to enter in the now-competitive video game streaming race. No other details were revealed other than it will be a streaming service for video games, and that Walmart has been speaking with developers and publishers since earlier this year and throughout this year's Game Developers Conference.
Walmart's discussions with developers for its streaming service have been secretive, and it's unclear how far along the service is in-development. But our sources are confident that this is a space Walmart is trying to move into.
Though Walmart might sound like a strange company to be jumping into the streaming tech space, the move isn't wholly unexpected. In recent years due to competition from Amazon, Walmart has been increasingly looking into more tech-focused markets beyond its traditional physical retail chain.
Over time, Walmart has integrated its physical stores with its large online presence, offering deliveries, app integrations, and in-store pick up services. Walmart also has a technology arm in Silicon Valley called Walmart Labs, which has 6,000 employees and develops tech for Walmart's digital presence. In addition it boasts tools like Cruxlux, which is a search engine designed to reveal the connection between any two people, places, or things.
Finally, Walmart has a data center unofficially called Area 71 in Caverna, Missouri which holds over 460 trillion bytes of data. Data centers are a centerpiece of Google's Stadia streaming service and companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple also own powerful data facilities, all of whom are also coincidentally working in streaming technology.
There's a chance that these are just exploratory meetings on Walmart's part. The company shelved plans for a Netflix-style video streaming service after deeming the field "too risky," according to a CNBC report from January. While Walmart abandoned video streaming, it still supports the digital video storefront Vudu—evidence that the company hasn't completely abandoned potential digital tracks. And considering that video game streaming is still new, Walmart could consider the field fresh and open enough to move into.
We've reached out to Walmart for confirmation and comment on its plans. For now, it seems that the video game streaming wars are just beginning.
Header image from Walmart Corporate via Flickr.