Supermarket Sweep?

With video games becoming an ever larger market it was only a matter of time before the British retail monoliths more commonly known as supermarkets made a big play for a slice of the gaming pie. That move has come this year.

If my local Tesco store is indicative of stores countrywide then its current reworking of its video games section of the store is part of the retailer’s much-needed smartening up of the presentation of the area.  They are already becoming increasingly competitive in online video game sales with their 20% off pre-orders deals on games such as Forza 3 and Uncharted 2 as well as the PSPgo.

A month ago it was Asda’s turn to up the ante when it announced that it intended to boost its presence in the gaming market by increasing the amount of shelf space for games, among other measures, and make an entry into the pre-owned games market.

The collapse late last year of the home entertainment distributor EUK seems to have stimulated the supermarkets into becoming more independently minded with regard to their game buying and given them the opportunity to acquire experienced senior staff.

Both Tesco and Asda have taken on ex-EUK senior managers and Asda has also grabbed some former senior Gamestation staff following the closure of Gamestation’s head office as GAME continues its assimilation of its former rival.

With the UK’s first and third biggest supermarkets having made their video game intentions pretty clear it obviously was not going to be long before the piggy-in-the-middle ran off to get a ball of its own to play with.

Sainsbury’s is now back with its ball and is looking to aggressively grow its market share with MCV reporting that its “aspiration is to be five per cent of the market in around 18 to 24 months”.  Sainsbury’s was also badly hit by EUK’s demise and has already strengthened its buying team as a result.

It will be making its big initial push in the hardware side of the market as it hopes that those hardware sales will result in people returning to its stores to buy the games.  It has gone so far as to make games hardware “the No.1 priority in non-food space at corporate level in the run-up to Christmas”.

How will we as comsumers know?  There will be big advertising banners in the car parks and they will be putting “a pallet at the front of store in over 300 sites” so expect to have to steer your wonky-wheeled trolley around a pile of Wii’s as you enter the store.

Living in today’s consumer society you will not be able to avoid their advertising by staying at home.  They will have “national press advertising and hopefully a Sainsbury’s TV advert”.  Lastly in one of those we-really-hope-they-are-joking moments they suggest that “we may even get Jamie Oliver singing on the next SingStar commercial”.

So be sure to check your local supermarket’s shelves for great value gaming deals this holiday season as their competition hits full stride.  Though if the supermarkets are as successful in their aims to grow their shares of the gaming market as they have been in other retail sectors the deals and the smaller retailers no longer able to compete will not be around for long.

Do economics, morals, good personal service or something else help you decide where to buy?  Are you purely driven by price in selecting where you chose to buy your games?  Maybe you have a favourite retailer or FLGS (Friendly Local Game Shop) you always buy from even if it does sometimes cost a few quid more than elsewhere?  Let us know in the comments.