And, as our front page this week demonstrates, it certainly ain’t doing things by halves. Indeed, our deputy editor Jonathon Harker came back from the supermarket’s Music, Video and Game Conference in Leeds with eyebrows still raised at Asda’s official announcements – and the further suggestions from general manager of music, video & games Fergal Gara and head of games Duncan Cross.
The topline announcement were in line with expectations – Asda’s new gaming store concept is being rolled out to 250 sites within the next 12 months, whilst it is, understandably, looking to devote additional shelf space to casual games.
But it was away from the stage that the Asda execs revealed the true extent of their battleplan. Gara was remarkably candid about the grocery chain’s failure to maximise the sales opportunity of formats such as DS and Xbox 360 at launch.
But his next statement revealed a steely determination to continue improving the chain’s position in the market: About a year ago, customers used to say they didn’t realise we had games in-store. And I never want to hear that again.”
For sure, Asda’s market share in the games industry has grown incredibly over the past couple of years, thanks to a combination of its increased focus on the sector, plus the rise in popularity of the casual and family games which appeal to its customers.
But the supermarket chain wants more – indeed, its goal is to become the leading retailer in the non-specialist space. And, along with giving games additional focus in-store, Asda aims to do that by looking to the successes of other retailers – in particular, pre-owned games.
If the grocery giant does indeed head down that route, it will surely rankle other retailers – both independent and national – who have pre-owned strategies. And it won’t win any friends amongst the publishing and development community that notoriously despises the secondhand trade.
But, if pre-owned is an accepted part of games retailing, why shouldn’t Asda – or any other non-specialist, for that matter – compete in that sector? Asda may find that secondhand trading isn’t as simple as it would appear (just ask Woolworths).
But good luck to them – and fair play to them for upping the ante in the grocery space. Your move, Tesco…