OPINION: Tesco’s video games ambition

Tesco is too much of an easy target for many critics.
The company best known for a competitive food offer has had countless legal cases brought against it and accusations thrown at it – ranging from unfair trading
to exploitation.

Outside of groceries and in games it is often accused of slashing the bottom out of the market, discounting games below cost so that indies and specialists just cannot compete.

Tesco is the bad guy, right?

Read the comments from angry readers on MCVuk.com and you’d be inclined to agree, but the Tesco I met this week was nothing of the sort.

The firm’s entertainment team were brimming with ideas on how to improve its offer, were excited by upcoming releases, concerned about the environment, and even had a few nice words to say about their competitors, and not just GAME but arch-nemesis Asda, too.

It wasn’t quite what I expected from a commercial goliath that just posted six month profits of 1.18 billion.
In fact, they sounded a lot more like – dare I say – games retailers.

And that’s just it. Behind Tesco’s corporate facade sits Rob Salter, John Stanhope, Joanna Hunt, Mark Burgess and a team of some of the finest games buyers out there.

These are people who have no interest in devaluing the market or adopting spoiler tactics to upset its rivals.
Ultimately, the team takes a lot of flak – but has never given any back.

In fact, they spend most of their days scrapping with the other departments for every inch of floor space and every penny of marketing to try to build a credible games offer in what has been a tough year for the sector. And they’re succeeding.

Like it or loathe it, supermarkets are now major players in the games sector.

As we said in this column last week, they are here to stay. They represent a changing retail landscape for entertainment, and in their own way are helping broaden the games market to an even larger audience that shop in their stores.

Of course people will always sling mud at Tesco, and sometimes it is fully deserved. But perhaps the world’s third largest retailer isn’t quite the all encompassing evil that some seem to think it is.

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