The UK's number one grocer offers games at 400 stores at present. The aggressive expansion to 600 stores by the end of this year means Tesco will far outstrip the number of outlets operated by market leader Game, which opened its 400th shop in the UK and Republic of Ireland this week.
Tesco buying manager for games Simon Boyd said the retailer aims to seize an early advantage with this year's product launches. 'We are not going to wait and see how it goes [with other retailers] - we are going to be in there from launch. We are very enthusiastic about the hand-held formats that are coming,' he said.
Both Nintendo and Sony are launching hand-held consoles this year. Nintendo's DS (Dual Screen) will hit the shops on March 11, while rival Sony's PSP is expected to launch in the US on March 24 and in the UK in the first half of this year.
Next-generation home consoles are expected to follow the hand-held devices. It is rumoured that Microsoft's Xbox 2 will be ready by the end of the year, while Sony's PlayStation 3 is anticipated next year. Tesco will offer the hardware at its Extra stores and large superstores.
Boyd said Tesco envisages substantial growth potential via the PlayStation 2, the market-leading games machine with more than 7 million units in the UK. He said Tesco's market share in games had doubled in the past 12 months, but refused to disclose its present market share.
A spokesman for Game said the retailer preferred to concentrate on how it was growing, rather than its competitors. Game's share of the£2 billion UK video games market is about 25 per cent.