On the heels of the reveal of Google Stadia (opens in new tab), Google's upcoming social, streaming-powered gaming platform, rumor has it Walmart is looking into building its own game streaming service.
According to a report from US Gamer (opens in new tab), the retail titan has been "exploring" game streaming in talks with game developers and publishers since early 2019. The report's sources claim streaming is an area of interest to Walmart, but it sounds like the company's plans are still in infancy. Walmart is reportedly still looking into options and partners, so if there is any sort of prototype, it's probably more of a proposal than a rough draft.
Even so, it's interesting to hear that Walmart's dipping its toes in the wild frontier of game streaming. The games industry has been trying and failing to create a 'Netflix for games' for years, but we're only just now seeing huge companies like Google enter the fray. Like Google, Walmart has enormous resources and reach - albeit less networking and streaming expertise than the owner of YouTube - so it could become a major player if it gets into the streaming game early.
At the same time, Walmart's alleged interest in streaming video games makes a strange sort of sense. Walmart was an essential distribution partner for gaming publishers in the industry's early days, especially the '90s, but the rise of online stores like Amazon, and digital stores like Xbox Live, has made it less relevant in that space. Games are only getting more digital - hell, there's a rumored digital-only Xbox One S on the horizon (opens in new tab) - meaning Walmart (like other brick-and-mortar retailers) is selling fewer games, so it's understandable for the company to look into streaming games instead.
Assuming Walmart does hit upon something during its exploration, I'd wager we won't hear much about it until 2020 at the earliest, and who knows how much the streaming landscape will have changed by then.
Latency and connectivity will be a huge hurdle for game streaming services. Encouragingly, Google says that if you can watch YouTube, you can play Stadia (opens in new tab).