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.