Tesco: "We're always working with publishers to deliver exclusive content"
11th Sep 2012 | 08:20
Retailer Tesco caused something of a stir earlier this year when it made, shall we say a fairly direct approach for core gamers' hearts and minds. With the gaming season now starting to warm up nicely, time we thought, to speak to Nick Cooke, Tesco's category buying manager for games, to discover just what it is the retailer hopes to offer the core market.
In this interview, Cooke talks about the hurdles the store may have to overcome to convince core gamers to shop there, how the recent acquisition of blinkbox has opened up new options for entertainment, why Tesco's gaming strategy isn't just built around the major titles, why this certainly doesn't mean the death of specialist retail and why he thinks digital gaming is very much going to be the future.
You recently made a very strong pitch to be the new home of gamers in a recent ad. Were you surprised by how big a reaction that campaign evoked?
It certainly got people talking about us as a games retailer, which was always the intention. I think we were a little surprised, but we still stand by all the elements of the ad - we do have a lot to offer the gaming market.
How important is that gaming market to Tesco?
Gaming is very important to Tesco, it's a very broad category that appeals to a wide audience, all of whom are potential Tesco customers in one way or another. We also see the future of gaming and are working to keep pace with the industry; offering our blinkbox media centre on Xbox LIVE is a great example of our commitment.
You may have to overcome quite a degree of scepticism amongst hardcore gamers - how do you hope to do that?
I think it's the extra things that we offer over and above that help us deliver for gamers just as much as families. What does a hardcore gamer want? All the latest titles, great exclusive content, the chance to buy at midnight as conveniently as possible and great offers all year round. We offer all that and more for gaming customers.
What do you think you can offer that other retailers or indeed specialist stores can't?
We will have more stores than any other retailer open at midnight for all releases this year. We don't just open late for COD and FIFA, we're open at midnight for every release. You can pre-order with us, turn up at midnight and be home gaming before anyone else. Plus you'll earn Clubcard points on every game you buy. Once you reach a certain number of points these are converted into Clubcard vouchers which can be used to get money off future purchases. Look out for our exclusive clubcard offers which are a great way of maximising clubcard points.
What plans do you have for pre-order bonuses and the special and collectors' editions which are key to core gamers?
We're always working with publishers to deliver exclusive content, or exclusive offers on pre-orders. Our T-shirt offers on Halo and COD this year are a great example of that, look out for more offers like these.
Will you be seeking exclusive content deals with publishers, such as for specific in-game items and content, the way specialist stores do?
Yes, exclusive content is certainly important to us as a way of giving something back to our gaming customers. Although I do need to ask earlier! My request for an exclusive weapon for Tesco customers who were online and gaming by 2am for an upcoming major release was apparently far too late to build into the game.
Will you be revising your online and delivery offerings to reflect a new emphasis on gaming?
Our website is currently going through a major change as we integrate our Tesco Entertainment site with the main Tesco site; this will allow us to present games in a much better way for gamers. Our delivery offerings are already very strong with free UK delivery on all games, and click and collect available in over 1000 stores.
One concern among gamers is that you'll only be stocking only the biggest titles while smaller more niche but still excellent games may be neglected - how will you be addressing that concern?
My aim is to stock every game we can, and we have a team of buyers passionate about games who want the same in their ranges. They may not all be available in our stores, but through our store offer and our online offer we do stock a complete range.
Will you be giving your staff extra training or drawing on gaming specialists to offer specialist knowledge in-store?
Each year we do more and more work with our store staff to provide specific games experts in as many stores as we can, and to provide the rest with information to help them understand the market better. We present all the latest games and hardware to our staff at our annual product conference, giving them the opportunity to get hands on with games.
You've said you intend to launch with a splash to launch Tesco's gaming campaign can you give us any more details?
September with FIFA is always the starting point to the season, and this year will be no exception, especially with the like of Borderlands 2, PES and F1 coming out as well. The slate of releases all the way through to Hitman and Far Cry in November is very strong this year and we intend to come out with great offers, great midnight openings, and a great in store display for all the major releases. In addition to that we are in the process of reviewing our store offering to give more space to digital gaming, to incorporate gaming magazines and present a clearer range of hardware and accessories.
Do you have any thoughts about digital distribution, considering the potential for growth in this sector?
Digital Gaming is very much going to be the future, how near that future is I don't know. We watch what's happening with the likes of On-live and Steam, and the Ouya proposal looks to have a lot of backing. In the more immediate future, Xbox LIVE points and PSN points are a growing market for our gaming customer; with Tesco being open so much later than our competitors we're able to really support them. If you run out of credit at 10pm and want to keep playing, there's bound to be a Tesco nearby that's open for you 7 days a week. Our digital movie platform blinkbox is an example of us moving with the times - if you register your Tesco Clubcard on your blinkbox account and then purchase a DVD in store scanning your Clubcard, the movie goes instantly into your blinkbox account. We want our digital gaming offering to follow in those footsteps.
Have you thought ahead to what you'll be able to offer with the next generation of gaming machines like the Xbox 720 and PS4?
I've thought lots about it; I've asked Sony and Microsoft lots about it, but nobody's giving anything away. They can't come soon enough in my view; I doubt anyone uses a computer that came out in 2006, so why are gamers expected to?
Will Tesco be pursuing second-hand games sales or trade-ins in a meaningful way?
We do currently offer a trade in and pre-owned service in a limited number of stores, it's a service that allows customers to trade in games and actually spend the money on anything in the store which is a real advantage.
Do you feel that the supermarket will become the future destination for games retail? Do you consider the specialist and indie stores as viable long-term competitors?
There's always a need for specialist retailers, but at Tesco we're committed to giving gamers a great range of games at consistently great prices, delivering unique offers and exclusive content, and all of it they can get from us literally any time - day or night.