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Tesco turns supplier

In games, we’ve had it relatively easy so far. We have already seen supermarkets’ super-low price promotions and unbeatable buying power make them tough competition for the more established games retailers – in particular the indie community.

MCV has revealed in the past that supermarkets are taking up over a third of release weekend sales on reliable money spinners like FIFA and Need for Speed during peak season. But it seems this is only the start.

Tesco’s first steps into games publishing could quite easily turn the budget market on its head. The likes of Mastertronic, Xplosiv, Focus and Midas will certainly be intrigued by the news, to say the least.

Value publishing is already a hugely competitive market. Battling for shelf space alongside more glamorous full-price releases is tough, and to justify their place these companies are offering consumers much more than just a range of quickly-knocked-out games produced on a shoestring. There are big name licences and former chart-topping classics on offer for dirt-cheap, impulse prices.

Budget games’ presence in corner shops and other non-traditional outlets has been a key element of the recent success of these publishers – most prominently within supermarkets, which have become key outlets. But now all that could change.

The toy market has been rocked to its core by the own-brand trend. Major retailers like Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Woolworths put a huge range of their own products out on their shelves at the expense of third parties – effectively competing with their suppliers for shelf space.

Once Tesco introduces its own range, it’s very possible that existing value pubishers will find it pretty difficult to get their titles onto their local supermarket’s hallowed shelves.

Where a market leader like Tesco leads, others tend to follow. Will we see a glut of similar games deals in the next few months from the likes of Asda and Sainsbury’s? We shall see. But for now we’re just expecting a suitably sweary letter from Garry Williams in next week’s issue. Watch this space.

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