Have supermarkets gone too far?

Of course I bought my copy from Tesco. I’d have been a fool not too. Don’t shoot the messenger – loads of the getting-on-for-a-million other purchasers of the game will surely have done the same.

(It’s worth pointing out here that I’d have paid another tenner – and I bet so would the vast majority of the new game’s record-breaking audience. I’m certain EA’s incredible development, sales and PR achievement would have existed regardless of supermarket naughtiness).

But the legacy of FIFA 10’s release isn’t all bad for the specialists. Loss-leading activities may boost market share, but it’s hardly an ideal way to build a successful video games business.

Also, the difference in cost between supermarkets and specialists is often minimal. This was an unsustainable one-off. For example, at launch Halo 3: ODST was cheaper at GAME than it was at Tesco.

And the supermarkets are far from perfect. On the day I picked up FIFA 10, Tesco had a poster outside with the incorrect price on it. They had no copies of the game on shelves and instead placed them all in a FSDU hidden away amongst the magazine section. You simply wouldn’t get that sloppiness at HMV, Blockbuster, GAME or Gamestation.

Nevertheless, ‘losing’ the FIFA launch weekend to the grocers will come as a significant blow to those looking to boost their sales in what has been a slow year – while publishers are seeing their triple-A titles devalue before their very eyes.

Who knows what might happen come the release of Pro Evolution Soccer, Assassin’s Creed or Modern Warfare 2?

It’s particularly interesting to see Pete Stone, boss of PES-publishing Konami, pleading for supermarkets to stop the price slashing on the cover of this week’s MCV. Despite conspiracy theories from indie stores and specialists littering MCVUK.com’s comments board this week , it appears – to a certain extent – the publishers really are on their side.

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