By Jessica Wohl
(Reuters) - Guns and bloodshed may be the perfect gifts to ensure a merry Christmas for Target Corp.
The U.S. discount chain hopes that a new slate of video games, along with gadgets such as e-readers and tablets, will lead to a strong holiday season in the electronics department, an executive said on Tuesday.
"Within gaming it's been a pretty soft industry over the course of the year, but I do think that given the slate of games this fall we should be set up to have a really strong holiday," said Nik Nayar, Target's vice president of electronics and gaming.
Electronic Arts Inc's "Battlefield 3" hit stores on Tuesday and fans are placing orders for Activision Blizzard Inc's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3," which debuts on November 8.
Target feels "really good" about "Battlefield" and orders for the new "Call of Duty" game are ahead of last year when another version of the game was launched, Nayar said.
With the economy weighing on the minds of shoppers, U.S. holiday spending is expected to rise modestly.
Target and its competitors are gearing up for what could be a price war. Target matches prices if shoppers find items advertised for less at other stores, so it can compete with the new "Christmas Price Guarantee" that rival Wal-Mart Stores Inc announced on Monday.
On Tuesday, Best Buy Co Inc said it would offer free shipping on online orders from November 1 through December 27.
Target, which offers free shipping on online orders of $50 or more, is thinking about its options on matching plans from competitors, Nayar said. Meanwhile, its website crashed on Tuesday for the second time in six weeks.
For now, Target will promote its trade-in plan, which gives shoppers Target gift cards when they bring in old electronics, and a 5 percent discount for Target credit card holders.
Target will highlight items such as video games and televisions in weekly circulars starting on October 30. Gadgets such as Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad, LCD televisions and e-readers are expected to be hot sellers, Nayar said.
Amazon.com Inc's Kindle will get its own display in stores starting next week to let users try the e-reader and the Kindle Fire, which debuts in mid-November.
One category getting less attention this year is 3D televisions. All Target stores have one 3D TV in stock, and some have two varieties. "We feel that it still hasn't caught up to the mainstream consumer," Nayar said.
(Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago)