The Wii Shortgage Continues, Might End Next Spring

Not even Nintendo anticipated how the market would react to the Wii, which is why they’re still hard to find a year after launch, even after Nintendo almost doubled production of the console from 1 million to 1.8 million units a month, writes Wired. “Last week was Nintendo’s best since the Wii’s launch, with 350,000 sold in the United States alone. In comparison, Microsoft sold about that many Xbox 360s last month.”

One problem was that Nintendo had to plan production rates for the holiday season earlier this year, and based on how consoles have traditionally sold they assumed that slack summer sales would help them stockpile inventory for Christmas. Instead, the Wii kept selling strongly throughout the summer, ruining any chance of building up inventory. (I know! Isn’t this sad for Nintendo!?)

According to Nintendo, they won’t increase production above 1.8 million units, but they won’t cut back either until demand subsides. A Nintendo executive offers the same tired old advice on how to score one if you’re still looking: check out stores on Sunday mornings, or find out exactly when shipments arrive at your store, etc.

“Why You Can’t Get Your Hands on a Wii” [Wired]
(Photo: Ian Muttoo)

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  1. phospholipid says:

    or just stop by a costco, i’ve seen pallets of those things, but in a day or two they’re gone. you find out when the shipment comes in, you’ll have a higher chance cause there is 50 of them, not 4 or 5

  2. jawtry says:

    I’m aching to get one of these consoles and finally hook my wife on gaming (what a great gateway platform)! Personally, though, I refuse to support the Wii scalpers who buy multiples when they’re available, and sell them at a huge profit online. There won’t be a Wii under the tree, but I can wait until spring…

  3. timmus says:

    Thanks for reminding me why I still enjoy playing our Dreamcast. It sat unused for several years, so all the games still seem new to me.

  4. mupethifi says:

    What a marketing gimmick

  5. Phildawg says:

    yea I actually think the wii sucks, lol, I hate the controller setup.

    I think 3 years from now, people will view their wii as a complete waste of money, time, and effort in obtaining it.

  6. target_veteran says:

    Someone on /. made a great comment about why this isn’t just marketing and why they can’t just pump more out. Setting up more lines and fabrication tools costs money – lots of it. If you over extend and increase production too fast, you’ll end up blowing any profit you made, flooding the market, and being stuck with a loss on the production equipment after demand drops. You only really invest in enough production equipment to meet a steady demand. So, if they’re selling every single console, they slowly up production to a sustainable level that won’t put them in the red.

    Plus, the Japanese are very conservative when it comes to money and predictions. Very, very conservative.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I got mine. I think the Wii is the next step in game innovation, forget the Playstation 2.5 and Xbox 180, they are just updates of their predecessors. Wii signaled a paradigm shift in gaming and no, I don’t think it will be seen as a complete waste of money, time, or effort.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I submitted a comment and it disappeared. It was a good one too.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Ah, there it is.

  10. MercuryPDX says:

    Hrm…. wonder if it’s even worth trying to profiteer off of on Ebay or CL with these this year.

  11. sunwukong says:

    Up here in Canada they’re not too hard to find — you can just check the websites of the major retailers (FutureShop, BestBuy, etc.) and find out which store has them in stock. It was really easy to find a couple (one for each side of the family) this way and, just checking right now, they have them available within an hours drive.

  12. howie_in_az says:

    @target_veteran: Not to mention that every single person looking for a Wii that can’t buy one is a potential lost customer. Reggie said something like this recently.

    Personally, I’ve got one and love it. Metroid is wild, Zelda was awesome, and I’m really looking forward to Super Smash Brothers: Brawl. It’s always fun to have a few people over and play Wii Sports, which gets better the more unsober one becomes.

  13. allthatsevil says:

    Santa brought me my Wii several months ago and I couldn’t have been happier. I’m a big fan of the old NES games, so not only can I play games on a completely new platform, but I can also download my old favorites like Metroid and Dragon Spirit. And if not for my Wii I would’ve gotten no excercise during my pregnancy.

    I would say it’s probably not for hardcore gamers, but great for families and for getting you off the sofa. It’s something I can see my newborn son playing with 10 years from now. But to say it’s a waste of money is narrow-minded. It’s not for everyone, but it’s certainly not a waste.

  14. UpsetPanda says:

    I was one of the lucky few who got a Wii on Black Friday. It didn’t take as much effort as one might think, either. We love the Wii and bought it because we knew we would enjoy it. Our next step is to buy a 360 because both my fiancee and I are hardcore gamers and we enjoy the games on the 360 more, but want the multi-player and party-game aspect of the Wii. I’m finding that one of the major benefits that you get from the Wii and not from any other system is that you do get off your butt and get some exercise. It’s not a substitute for real exercise, but it’s a way to get physical activity, especially for people who would normally sit in front of the television for 4 hours with a controller.

  15. ShadowFalls says:

    @thbarnes:

    The Wii is innovative, but it is not much more different than the Gamecube short of some improvements. Every console is the same way, but the other brought real power and better graphics. Not to mention other various uses outside the range of just playing games.

    Like the other consoles, the Wii has much untapped potential. The Wii’s cheap price is what is keeping them selling, more especially so regarding parents who are less informed on all the game consoles, they just see cheap.

  16. LynchMob1232 says:

    @target_veteran:

    While I agree completely with your first paragraph, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read that japanese are conservative when it comes to money and predictions

    [www.syberpunk.com]

  17. boandmichele says:

    people that just declare the wii as ‘teh sux’, obviously have not played it beyond some Happy Feet and wii boxing.

    mario galaxy. look it up. aside from that, there are still tons of great games for the system, many of which have come out in the past few weeks.

  18. Anitra says:

    If you want a Wii, all you have to do is expend a little effort, or a little more money.

    They’re selling on eBay for about twice the list price.

    Or you could make friends with your local game store employees and call every day until they have one. They’re usually willing to hold it for an hour or so for you.

    We have a Wii, and we’ve facilitated the purchase of half-a-dozen more for friends of ours. Why? Because we don’t mind getting up early in the morning to wait in line, or keeping in touch with local game store employees.

  19. Starfury says:

    I picked one up at Target about a month back. They got 27 in that store, I was #10 in line. The kids will get that from Mom & Dad, the extra controller and games will be from Santa.

  20. jameslutz says:

    I got my wii last Sunday morning at Toys R US, due to a tip from a worker in the store the night before. I was number 15 in line of 16 available. There were exacly 14 people there when I got there and waited five minutes for the store the open.

  21. scoopy says:

    @Phildawg: I already think that. Wonky controlls, almost no well-rated games, and ridiculous graphics.

    Plus I can’t beat my wife on any game in Wii Sports.

  22. boandmichele says:

    so, @eslaydog: yes, things that differ from the status quo, that other people dislike, and a low pixel count are all good indicators of if something is good or not. as is sucking at video games.

  23. Macroy says:

    So basically, the shortage will last until spring, right after Super Smash Bros. Brawl releases, which will cause more people to buy the Wii, which will cause more shortages?

  24. Libertariot says:

    @timmus:

    Agreed. Such an awesome system; really regret selling mine a few years ago.

  25. Amalas says:

    @Phildawg: Of course meanwhile, Nintendo is bathing in their huge piles of money. For such a “sucky” system, it sure is making a lot of money. =D

  26. mexifelio says:

    I’m extremely happy with my wii that I’ve owned for about a year now. Mario Galaxy was an absolutely amazing game. I’ve already beat the game and collected all the stars and still find myself lost for hours on end re-playing the different galaxys. Zelda was another strong release that has excellent re-play value.

  27. beetle says:

    It’s not hard to find a Wii if you’re willing to do a little research. Early this year there was considerable debate at some shopping sites (notably fatwallet.com) on whether aggressive reseller acquisition tactics were making the Wii harder to get for the mom who just wanted one for her kids. But I think now it’s to the point where anyone who really wants a Wii can get it if they expend just a bit of effort. I’d love to know who’s buying the $499 Wii off ebay though; I have an old Nissan Quest I’m sure they’d be interested in …

  28. lonelymaytagguy says:

    I was one of the lucky 1,000 that got to buy one Thanksgiving Day for $79 on Amazon. My son got one last year but he’s in college and took it away. Now I have my own.

  29. mac-phisto says:

    good for nintendo. this is the type of demand they need to keep themselves going the way of sega. now, if they could just work on releasing a steady supply of games, they’d be all set.

    i have a wii & a 360. unfortunately, the wii’s been collecting a bit of dust lately. i was highly anticipating the release of ssb brawl, but god-forbid they release two top-selling games in the same quarter.

    i suppose it’s a good thing. last time my housemates & i played smash bros, we made the mistake of combining it with a bottle of jack. don’t do that. ever.

  30. joebloe says:

    I’m happy with my Atari 2600.

  31. mac-phisto says:

    @mac-phisto: “this is the type of demand they need to keep themselves FROM going the way of sega.”

    i think that’s what i meant to say.

  32. SaraAB87 says:

    I won’t buy one of these till they are cheap and come in a color other than white, I hate white. I am convinced this is all hype to sell more Wii’s, the commercial even shows excited shoppers getting one, thus furthering the hype. The more publicity the Wii shortage gets, the more people look for them and the more people want them, it creates artificial demand and makes more money for Nintendo.

    I have a DS and there aren’t too many games aside from a few that you can get on the Wii but not the DS. When I look at the release lists I find the same games on the Wii and the DS and since I already have a DS no need to buy a Wii yet. I am also kind of desensitized to the wanting of more video game consoles because I have a whole collection of video games and consoles and not even half of them get played. I would rather have a handheld than a console just because I don’t like to plop myself in front of a video game.. its strange I know.

    I would rather spend my money on stuff like an external hard drive, usb hub and new mouse for my computer since this is stuff I will use on a daily basis.

  33. ExVee says:

    Heh, I got my Wii without even trying. I happened to be in the Wal-Mart I worked at the time on a day off, walked over to electronics and there was one Wii in the case. At like, 4:30pm. I was kinda shocked.

    Nintendo’s real skill seems to be at hardware innovation. They got an unexpected mega-hit with the DS, and the Wii is simply the translation of that to the console level. It’s all about opening up truer human-interface with the video games, and it’s such a little-explored concept that few game designers know how to utilize the potential. It’s true for both the DS and Wii. Outside a precious few good titles that get it right, you either get questionable titles that focus on use of the special controls, or good titles that rely on much more traditional control methods.

    The DS seems to be finding more of a place with the puzzle and arguably educational games (plus Pokemon which would make a handheld sculpted from poo sell like chocolate covered sex), and I think all that the Wii really needs to do is find a primary game type to focus on, and make bad ports of standard console games secondary. I’m not saying don’t have your licensed property games on the system, but they can’t pretend the Wii can or should be a straight up replacement for any other system. Much like a child with Asperger’s, the Wii will wildly excel in some areas, but need special attention in others. If not, it’ll always be among the misfits of the game world.

  34. Myron says:

    In my house the Wii didn’t make it onto Santa’s list until this week so now I’m scrambling to find one. It seems my best chance is to wait in line at a store on Sunday morning but which store? Target, Toys are US? Do the all give out numbers in line or is it a race to the death once the doors open?

    Now that the Wii is selling for $400 on my local Craigs list and $600 on Ebay, I suspect it won’t be just parents waiting in line to get a toy for their kids but opportunists hoping to turn a quick profit. Bastards.

    Any Wii hunting tips?

  35. DrGirlfriend says:

    We got our Wii a few weeks ago after seeing an entry right here that Amazon would have them in stock on Halloween. Woo!

  36. gruffydd says:

    I had the opportunity to buy 3 on Amazon the early morning after Black Friday and only bought 1.

    Damn! These things are going to be gold on eBay this season!

  37. Finder says:

    The willful ignorance some people in this thread display is absolutely stunning.

  38. Daniel-Bham says:

    I think I should sell mine and then buy one plus a bunch of games with the profit.

  39. UpsetPanda says:

    I’ve found Medal of Honor to be a great game to utilize the controller and nunchuck for. It’s just such a better playing experience, more fluid because you can walk, strafe, poke around corners, all independent of the controls, like aiming a gun or holding a gun. It’s definitely changed the way many people are playing FPS.

  40. night_sky says:

    Good thing I got my the day of release back in Nov. 2006. The only thing I’ve had to worry about is keeping my mom from taking it from me… which is a strange problem in itself but explains the Wii madness.

  41. Gloria says:

    Yep, just walk into any Canadian place and buy one. A month or two ago, I started noticing huge stacks in every electronics/gaming store.

  42. majortom1981 says:

    Its not a marketing gimmic. Nintendo does not want to be left with tons of wiis that wont sell. Thats happened with the gamecube.

  43. Laffy Daffy says:

    @Myron:
    Buy the Sunday paper on Sat nite to get an early look at the sales. Be prepared to start early and go to more than 1 store if necessary. Around here Target opens at 8 am while CC and BB at 10 am, so you could hit Target at 6:30 and by 8 whether you’ll succeed – if not go on to the next store and wait again. Yeah that’s early, but you have to be willing to expend a bit of energy to score one. Some great tips can found by going to fatwallet.com and reading the Wii availability thread in the deal discussion forum. To see how the resellers are faring, go to the online auctions forum. Good luck!

  44. exkon says:

    Awesome. I’m glad I picked one up about a week ago..going to be on ebay soon…^_^

  45. theblackdog says:

    I had an easy time getting a Wii last March, I just went out after work and hit a Target, Gamestop, and KMart, which didn’t have them, then I went up to a Wal-Mart 20 mins away, and there were five of them sitting in the case, at 8:30 at night, so they had to have been there nearly all day. I bought one and that was that.

    I’d like to buy my parents one this Christmas, if I’m lucky enough to find one. It’s not a top priority, so we’ll see.

  46. Laffy Daffy says:

    @exkon: the smart resellers left Ebay months ago and moved on to craigslist. Higher profit margin and less potential for fraud.

  47. ExVee says:

    If you want to get a Wii, I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve been told by the employees. First off, you have to call every day, as close to the time that they get Wii shipments as possible. In my experience this is usually between 9-11am, but may vary by area. You have to just keep on every day until someone says they did get a shipment in. They may or may not be willing to tell you how many, but it’s not really important anyway. You have to be ready and willing to rush down to that store the moment you get off the phone and secure your prize. You also need to be willing to expand beyond your normal shopping radius. Don’t just call the stores within 15 minutes of your house. Depending on how built up your area is, you need to be willing to call into the next town, even if it’s maybe an hour one way. Decide how important having Nintendo’s little gangbuster under your tree is, and then plot your search range based on that.

    Also, as far as Wal-Marts, try to find out which store in your area does the best sales numbers, because they get preference when the Wiis are handed out and so get a higher quantity at any given time.

    If an ad is coming out featuring the Wii, and with the holidays on fast approach that’ll be more common, stores will hoard Wiis to generate the maximum quantity for ad-day, and you almost certainly won’t be able to get one earlier than that. Then the system breaks down and you’re stuck in a frosty line waiting to be numbered. I did that about this time last year and was number 15 out of 14 Wiis. :P Totally unfair, since one dude brought his twin brother (yes, seriously. I saw them standing together) to get around the one-per-customer limit.

    In my estimation, if you can’t get a Wii through normal means before December 8th, you’re not going to. That is what I believe the point of no return for having to brave hours of waiting outside in the cold for any shot. I don’t suggest buying into resale markup no matter how desperate your situation. I understand people have children (and frightening teenagers who’re just as likely to run a golf club through your chest as you sleep) and it’s not a fun prospect to face their sad little faces when they’ve opened everything and none of it was a Wii. Make a deal – tell them they can have a new game or two each for a system they already have, or wait until after Christmas to get the Wii. Basically turn it into gift credit and let them decide when and how they want to use it. You might come off cheaper in the end, but either way it’ll help get you off the hook for a little while.

    If you do give in and go for a resale Wii, this should be common sense but I’ll say it anyway: ONLY PAY BY CREDIT CARD OR PAYPAL. If you pay by Paypal, even if just for the one transaction, add your major brand credit card to your account as an alternate funds source, and make sure to use that source to fund the payment for the Wii. If somebody decides to screw you over, you need your options open, and credit card power will serve you better than just Paypal’s power, or your bank’s.

  48. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Got one the day it came out. Controls rock, games rock, Virtual Console RULEZ.

    For those who say it sucks, yeah, 13 million plus seem to disagree. Have you actually played it?

    Rampage is teh shit.

  49. econobiker says:

    yet another upgrade in the evolution of video game entertainment, I’ll check into them 3-4 years from now when they are at yardsales after the Wii4 has debuted …

  50. exkon says:

    @ratzie: thanks for the tip. I thought about craigslist.

    But another idea dawned on me. A week before xmas, waiting outside a store that’s going to have wiis, while disappointed parents are leaving..I’ve got a wii to sell…

  51. Majisto says:

    I think the wii is cool but won’t go out and get one until the Bob Ross game comes out!! :D I have a PS2 and considering new games are still being released for it, thats good enough for me now!

  52. bookling says:

    I’m so glad I sacrificed a few hours of my time to stand in line at Target on launch day to get my Wii. Totally worth it.

  53. @AnitraSmith: Or call a friend or relative who lives outside a major metro area. We don’t mind picking them up for folks in teh big citee; they usually stay on the shelves 2 days or so after shipment now.

  54. pyloff says:

    I’m laughing at the guy still playing the Dreamcast. Nice try fella. heh