At this point we wouldn't be surprised if Xerox announced that it's working on a game streaming platform. Google announced its upcoming Stadia service at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco this week. Nvidia pushed its GeForce Now game streaming platform by partnering up with telecom companies, and various other tech companies are reportedly working on similar platforms. Now we can add Walmart to that list.
USGamer reported this week that "multiple sources familiar with Walmart's plans" said the retailer is "exploring its own platform to enter in the now-competitive video game streaming race." The anonymous sources also said Walmart started wooing game developers and publishers earlier this year.
"Walmart's discussions with developers for its streaming service have been secretive," USGamer said, "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." The report also claimed that Walmart had used GDC 2019 to further these discussions with developers, which would be a logical step for a company looking to introduce a game streaming platform.
Still, it might seem weird that Walmart is considering a cloud-based gaming service. But in recent years the company has sought to compete with Amazon by expanding beyond simple brick-and-mortar retail stores. Walmart has turned its website into an e-commerce platform, partnered up with Microsoft against cashier-less stores and established relationships with other tech companies to complement the core shopping experience.
The company's ambitions don't stop there. Walmart is reportedly thinking of expanding Vudu into a true Amazon Prime Video competitor, for example, and now it's said to be planning this game streaming platform. It's basically mirroring Amazon: Jeff Bezos started online, introduced various digital services and then got physical with Whole Foods. Walmart already had the brick-and-mortar stores; now it's embracing the web.
Yet, it's hard to know if anything will come of Walmart's reported game streaming interests. Companies often explore potential markets before deciding not to enter them. If Walmart really wants to compete with Amazon, though, it would make sense for it to prioritize a digital service where its rival isn't already established. Amazon has digital book, music and video services, but it doesn't yet have a game streaming platform. Walmart could beat it there.
But Walmart would have to act fast: Amazon is reportedly planning a cloud-based gaming service of its own. Let's just hope that Walmart does a better job with a game streaming platform than it did with the budget Overpowered line. We don't need a bunch of game streaming platforms either way, but we need a bunch of mediocre options fracturing public attention and making all of them struggle even less.