Editor’s Choice: I Will Never Buy Games From Tesco
Yesterday, Tesco said that when it comes to games, they are not being treated fairly. They said that by creating a “level playing field” between them and specialist game retailers, Tesco could “keep adding value to the market” and “do things for [publishers] that no other retailer has the appetite or ability to do”. Sounds tempting.
Tesco, one of the largest retailers in Britain with a clear and unapologetic advantage over specialist retailers like GAME, think they’re being treated unfairly. The shop which routinely uses the fact they have a huge company backing them and is able to sell brand new games for a loss, just to makes sales, is the underdog.
With one breath they say they’re getting the hard bargain and it’s unfair, and then with the other point out that they could, if given a “fair” chance, utterly crush every other game seller on market.
The biggest thing we want as a retailer isn’t exclusive content – let’s take this one step at a time – just give us the opportunity to compete on a level playing field.
This all follows Tesco’s push to cover more than food. As their 2010 Annual report says:
With our growing range in-store, customers are recognising the convenience of buying non-food items with their weekly groceries, rather than making a special trip to the high street. Our sales in toys, for example, continue to grow rapidly – up 25% this year.
They openly say they can and will try to take customers away from shops like GAME (which, to be fair, are twats, but it’s all relative). And they want to eventually sell exclusive content to prey those last few pounds out of GAME’s cold dead hands.
And they can do this best by canceriously building shops wherever they like. Shouldn’t fair trade and planning permission stop them if it was a problem? It should, but it doesn’t. Tesco, and other large supermarket chains, are well known to be able to skirt the law when it comes to planning permission, either using their size to ignore the law, or bribing local councils. (Supermarket Sweep, March 2011. pdf link )
They are, and have been for some time, aggressively closing a noose around videogame retail — all specialist retail for that matter — in Britain, and almost without challenge. Now they are trying to sweet-talk publishers into signing their death warrant.
Well they can fuck right off.
I will never buy a videogame from Tesco because I like videogames. I like more than one retailer, I like developers not going out of business, I like choice and I don’t like the idea that one of the greediest and immoral retailers out there could get a stranglehold on my hobby.
Why am I so angry with those who suggest that every little helps? Because when they say “every little”, they really mean it. They will wring blood from a stone if they think they can make a little bit more money out of it. Just look at their track record with groceries.
Due to near total control of the market, the large supermarket chains like Tesco routinely get away with the following (taken from A Review of Recommendations and Remedies to Address Supermarket Buyer Power in the EU, June 2010, pdf link):
- Delay payments to suppliers, creating problems for the latter in financing the gap.
- Engage in retrospective changes in terms of supply, e.g. by requiring retrospective rebates based on the level of sales in the year.
- Require fees to be paid by a supplier as a condition of carrying/stocking the latter’s product.
- Require payment for the location of a good in their stores e.g. on a middle shelf or at the end of an aisle.
Meaning, if games start to be sold in large quantities by places like Tesco: publishers and developers may not get paid on time, or when they are, may not be paid what was previously agreed; publishers may have to actually pay Tesco to have their game stocked (if Tesco are the biggest retailer, they’d have no choice); and be charged more to have games placed in more accessible shelves — the bigger the publisher, the more shelf space they can afford.
I don’t think it takes a genius to realise than in an environment like that, you can wave goodbye to videogames as you know them.
I for one won’t be killing videogames in Britain. I for one won’t be buying games from Tesco.
[Ed - This article has been updated to remove an incorrect link to Tesco's ethic's policy]