The first Xbox 360 demo pods have begun to appear in Wal-Mart stores across the US, giving shoppers the chance to try out playable demos of high profile next-generation titles.
According to Internet reports, the games on show are action adventure Kameo: Elements of Power, WWII shooter Call of Duty 2 and movie tie-in Peter Jackson's King Kong.
Photographs purporting to be of the demo pods suggest that they all use Samsung HD-TV screens and feature a slot at the bottom, next to which is displayed the message: "Insert your memory unit to download bonus content". Since memory units won't go on sale until the console itself launches on November 22, it's not yet clear what form this bonus content might take.
US website Joystiq has posted a list of more than 60 Wal-Mart stores where Xbox 360 pods are either already installed or will be arriving in the next few days. Notably the stores are located all across the country, suggesting that the demo pod promotion is not limited to particular states or regions.
Wal-Mart controls a huge 30 per cent share of the US videogames market, leaving Gamestop in second place - even after its recent merger with Electronics Boutique. The supermarket giant is no longer taking preorders for the Xbox 360 online, but the Wal-Mart website assures visitors that "The Xbox 360 will be available in Wal-Mart stores at 12am on Tuesday, November 22."
A representative for UK subsidiary Asda was unavailable to comment on whether Xbox 360 demo pods will also appear in stores over here. However, the company's commitment to securing a strong foothold in the games market is well known - Asda has previously stated its intention to become the UK's number one non-food retailer by the end of next year, and one of the key areas highlighted in an internal report regarding this aim was game sales.
An example of Asda's aggressive commitment to capturing the market was shown last month, when the supermarket slashed the price of FIFA 2006 to just GBP 24.97 on the day of release - undercutting GAME by GBP 10 and arch rival Tesco by GBP 5.