Walmart targets video games with latest price cuts

SAN FRANCISCO Wed Dec 2, 2009 12:41am EST

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc is cutting prices on popular video games by $10 each and offering a $50 gift card with the purchase of a Nintendo Wii video game console as the retailer tries to lure shoppers to its U.S. stores ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Now through December 24, Walmart will sell "Rock Band: Beatles" for the Wii for $40, down from $50, and it will offer "Left 4 Dead 2" for Microsoft's Xbox 360 for $50, compared with its previous price of $60.

From December 5 until December 12, Walmart also said that shoppers who buy a Wii in its stores for $199 will also get a $50 Walmart gift card.

Walmart is cutting prices on select items every week until Christmas as it seeks to win the business of bargain-hungry shoppers. The discount giant has already reduced prices on toys, televisions, turkeys and bananas, while Walmart.com has slashed prices on books and DVDs.

But competitors like Target Corp and Amazon.com Inc have responded with price cuts of their own or offers to match competitors' prices.

The holiday shopping sales rush got underway over the U.S. Thanksgiving weekend, but early data showing sales only rose slightly disappointed investors, who were hoping for a more robust start to the season.

Retailers are now trying to avoid the inevitable drop in store traffic that occurs in the early weeks of December, after the drastic discounts offered over the Thanksgiving weekend fade.

Meanwhile, the video game industry is hoping that new titles, like "The Beatles: Rock Band," can boost sales during the holiday season.

The industry, once thought to be relatively insulated from economic concerns, has struggled this year with sales in the once robust music software category flagging and few blockbuster titles to compel worried consumers to spend.

Sales of video game equipment and software in the United States tumbled 19 percent in October to $1.07 billion, according to research group NPD.

(Reporting by Nicole Maestri; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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