OPINION: Taking Tesco seriously

I was sitting in a conference last month listening to a big retail exec discuss the future of video games.

He spoke about no longer selling discs, but rather the rights to access content. He discussed streaming services and DLC. He even suggested bundling Xbox games with PS3 titles.

But the surprising thing about this wasn’t the content of
the speech, but rather the person that was giving it. It wasn’t HMV’s Simon Fox. It wasn’t GAME’s Ian Shepherd. Nor was it Amazon, Steam or iTunes.

It was Rob Salter, the entertainment boss at Tesco. You know, the supermarket. Sells bananas and clothing.

For over two years now Tesco has seen itself as more than just a grocer that sells a small range of games. To them they are specialists with specialist knowledge.

Hence the shelf space dedicated to pre-owned, pre-orders and, if it had its way, DLC and collector’s editions.

It is interesting to hear Tesco’s games boss Sarah Kaye call for a ‘level playing field’ with the specialists. For years we have had GAME, HMV and indies complain about the grocers and their penchant for cutting prices.

Here we have a supermarket complaining about specialists and their unique offers. Who says the grass is always greener?

Sure Tesco is a big, scary corporation. It owns a bank after all. And an insurance company. And a mobile business and film studio. And I am sure it can be difficult to deal with at times.

But this is a retailer on games’ side, and with 20 million customers walking through its doors every week. It is an opportunity publishers would be foolish to ignore.

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