walmartAs the nation’s biggest retailer, Walmart has a lot of clout in the video game industry. Today, it’s taking a big whack at console and game prices.

The retailer is announcing a special promotion where it will offer a $50 Walmart gift card with the purchase of a $199 Wii game console, as well as a $10 price cut on a number of new games. The latter move is a bigger deal, since game prices have held up in this console cycle until now.

Xbox 360 games have cost $60 since the console launched in 2005. Sony PlayStation 3 games have cost $60 since the launch in 2006. And Wii games have cost $50 since the 2006 launch. Now Walmart is cutting prices on selected games by 15 percent to 25 percent. If the rest of the retailers follow suit, the game industry could have a price war on its hands. It will also be a test of Walmart’s power. Can it force GameStop, the biggest dedicated game retailer, to follow its lead?

In some ways, the deals are limited. The Wii deal will last from Dec. 5 to Dec. 12, while supplies last. And the game discounts will last until Dec. 24. Still, that’s part of the prime season for video game sales, and console hardware prices have already been cut by each of the players this fall. If the price cuts get traction and gather steam, it could bring more shoppers into stores. The game industry badly needs that in the all-important December sales month.

Earlier this month, Walmart had an offer where it gave a $100 gift card to those who purchased a $199 Xbox Live Arcade system, which doesn’t have a hard drive. That deal lasted a couple of weeks and did very well.

The games being discounted include:

—  Mario & Sonic at the Winter Olympics (Wii) – now $40
—  Lego Rock Band (Wii) – now $40
—  Rock Band: Beatles (Wii) – now $40
—  MySims: Agents (Wii) – now $40
—  Tekken 6 (Xbox 360 and PS3) – now $50
—  Madden 2010 (Xbox 360 and PS3) – now $50
—  WWE 2010 (Xbox 360) – now $50, WWE 2010 (Wii) – now $40
—  Batman Arkham Asylum (Xbox 360) – now $50
—  Dragon Age: Origins (PS3) – now $50
—  Left 4 Dead 2 (Xbox 360) – now $50
—  Halo 3:ODST (Xbox 360) – now $50
—  Uncharted 2 (PS3) – now $50

There are a lot of great games on this list. But it still represents a small slice of the games, and the biggest game of all, Modern Warfare 2, isn’t on the list.