Why Are Nintendo Wiis So Hard To Find?

Nintendo thinks depriving potential customers of the coveted Wii is a sound business decision that will ensure its long-term survival. Sure, you want the Wii now, but your passions are fleeting and unreliable. If you can’t wait for Nintendo’s post-holiday production ramp-up, hit the jump and we’ll tell you how we snagged our Wii.

Already, the persistent shortages have led to speculation by angry consumers that Nintendo was deliberately keeping supplies short to create more hype for the product. Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo’s U.S. division, denies this, saying Nintendo simply didn’t anticipate this level of demand for the Wii this holiday season.

“It really is a missed opportunity if we’re not able to satisfy that demand, which is why we’re working so hard with retailers,” he says.

Supply-chain management experts say missed opportunity may still be better than being stuck with excessive supply. Unsold Wiis could create a negative impression that consumers don’t want the product. The consequences are so painful that many companies end up erring on the side of a shortage.

“If you flood the market, it will come back to haunt you,” says Christopher Tang, a professor of supply-chain management at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Nintendo may be missing opportunities by allowing other people to profit from the shortage by charging premiums, but Mr. Tang says that isn’t entirely a bad thing because it creates hype. “Psychologically, it’s better if the customer is begging for the product,” he says.

An excess supply also angers retailers, who must work harder and offer discounts to get rid of the product. The manufacturer’s financial results also suffer because they are forced to lower prices or take back the products retailers can’t sell.

The delay is only partly Nintendo’s fault: “The Wii contains dozens of parts, which means “one manufacturer can hold the whole darn thing up,” says David Cole, an analyst with industry-research firm DFC Intelligence, based in San Diego.”

Finding a Wii takes time and persistence. If you are in New York, a shipment of Wiis arrives daily at Nintendo’s World Store in Rockefeller Center. After several failed attempts, we walked in on a Tuesday before 10 a.m. and walked out with a Wii. Other retailers usually receive a scheduled shipment of Wiis. It may only be five consoles every three weeks, but by cultivating a relationship with your local store, you can find out when it might be wise to pop in. As a last resort, eBay and Craigslist are overflowing with overpriced consoles.

Nintendo Plays It A Wii Bit Cautious [WSJ]
(Photo: largeprime)

Comments

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  1. bohemian says:

    Our local Target seems to always have them in stock. Maybe try finding a Target store with minimal traffic.

  2. catnapped says:

    They’re only driving the Ebay sellers who are grabbing up every one they can get their hands on just to flip

  3. ionerox says:

    I used an online Wii finder, and scored one on June at Target. Best bet is likely middle of the week in the early afternoon.

  4. ColoradoShark says:

    In defense of Nintendo and manufacturing companies in general, I used to work for a big electronics company and have a little story.
    The marketers thought we would sell 200,000 widgets based on early market research so we geared up production and lined up supplies for 200,000.
    The marketers showed early prototypes to some customers who got very excited. The marketers come back and tell us to gear up for 400,000. It is incredibly expensive to double production on short notice but we did it.
    We wound up selling 300,000 at regular price and having a fire sale for the last 100,000.
    So our unit cost went up and our average selling price went down. Instead of a good successful product selling 200,000 units we had a money loser at 400,000 units. I understand exactly where Nintendo is coming from.

  5. harleymcc says:

    consolewatch.com got me a wii and GH3

  6. Butch Huskey says:

    i found my Wii via [www.itrackr.com] … they somehow track Gamestop inventory as well as the big box stores … since i’m not 12 years old i had no idea about GameStop but sure enough, itracker’s info was accurate and i got found one exactly where they said it was … and i’ve never seen a Wii console out on display at a target or any other store so i’d probably still be looking

    that being said … the Wii novelty has kind of worn off already but it can be a fun, family game night type of console …

  7. Shadowfire says:

    I’m not seeing this though. I really don’t think Nintendo is manufacturing any sort of shortage. We saw the numbers of units shipped increase over the past year, and they’re still flying off the shelves. If Nintendo could double production overnight, I really think they would.

  8. parad0x360 says:

    @ColoradoShark: Shortages on the Wii make no sense and here is why.

    The hardware in the Wii is 7 years old. Its the same hardware that was in the gamecube just with higher clock rates. Time tested ways to make this stuff means there should be no huge flaws in the line which means more go out to stores. Nintendo could ramp up production if they choose.

    I believe that yes the facilities where the Wii is being made are putting out 100% capacity. Nintendo could easily hire 1 more firm to make the console and meet demand. They dont want to do this because this shortage feeds into the hype.

    The Wii is a gimick, and gimicks stick until everyone who wanted to join the party can. I bought a Wii on launch was was bored with it in a couple weeks. Nobody i know who owns a Wii uses it very often and there is a reason for it. Its great for a little while and every so often a game worth playing will come out but…other then the once and a while (nintendo made) game comes out there is no reason to pick up the controller and thats a fact Nintendo doesnt like sharing.

    Game sales on the Wii are flat, you never hear Nintendo talking about how amazing 3rd parties are doing..because they arent. Just as it was with N64 and GCN before it, the Wii only sells Nintendo made games while 3rd party product wastes away on shelves.

  9. G-Dog says:

    If you can’t get a Wii, get a DS to tide you over.

  10. Televiper says:

    You have to keep in mind that Nintendo is also competing for sales of it’s cames and accessories. You can’t sell games to people who don’t yet own the console. You definitely can’t sell games to people who go out and buy a different console. Microsoft was desperately worried about PS3 being released a few months before XBox-360 for this very reason.

    Apparently my brother bought one. So I’ll get to try one out at Christmas time.

  11. Zombietime says:

    The Wii is the worst nintendo system i’ve played in a while. Graphics suck, waving around the controllers really sucks and I just don’t see why it’s so popular.

  12. HrPingui says:

    It’s better to underproduce now, than to overproduce later.

  13. Trae says:

    The reason there are hardware shortages with the Wii are quite simple actually.

    Normally, console sales cool off in the summer. Manufacturers then use this time to produce enough units for the upcoming Christmas season. What Nintendo didn’t anticipate was that their sales would continue to be high over the summer months – effectively meaning they didn’t build their anticipated surplus at their current rate of production.

    In other words, because Wiis sold better than expected in August, they didn’t have enough units for December.

  14. mr.dandy says:

    It’s like the old show-biz adage, “always leave them wanting more”.

    I think the controller is no more of a gimmick than a computer mouse for a PC is a gimmick. It was time that a system was designed around a controller that uses more than your thumbs. Seems demand is rewarding that choice over and over again– not just with the Wii, but also DDR, Guitar Hero, the DS (with stylus), etc.

  15. Falconfire says:

    @parad0x360: ITS NOT A REBADGED GAMECUBE!

    Im so sick of idiots spouting this line without any knowledge of whats in it. While the basic parts are the same yes, they are ALL uprated and much superior and faster to what was in the gamecube which DOES in fact make them new.

    You wouldnt go saying your 7 year old computer has the same parts as your brand new dell even though it does.

  16. muddgirl says:

    Anyone still calling the Wii a gimmick hasn’t played some of the recent titles.

    Nintendo is doing a great thing, here. Penny-Arcade did a recent comic about how their grandparents own DS’s, are playing Brain Age every day, yadda yadda. Instead of focusing on one quarter of the population, Nintendo is going for the whole enchilada, and it seems to be working. Note that sony isn’t even TRYING to compete with Nintendo anymore.

    Now, I only hope that they can keep up their production of quality games through the life cycle of the Wii.

    The shortages do suck, though. I can’t imagine that they’re intentional – why would a company chose NOT to sell something that makes money?

  17. vitonfluorcarbon says:

    The Wii is awesome. I bought one for me and my 6 year old son to bond last summer, and wow am I happy I did. I get to play old NES and N64 games and really like the “active” controllers. I don’t understand why people “put it down” after two weeks. My son and I love it.

    I don’t understand why this console is not more available, but still contend that this console is the one to own. Bitch all you want….

  18. Paul D says:

    I went to Circuit City when they opened at 11am on a Sunday morning.

    They had several in stock.

    I love my Wii.

  19. howie_in_az says:

    @parad0x360: I totally agree with you! Waving the old Gamecube Remote around on my tiny black cube lost it’s appeal after a while. In fact, purchasing Resident Evil 4/Wii, I was totally amazed that the controls were the exact same as the version for the Gamecube! And the Gamecube pack-in game, Gamecube Sports, was a total rehash of every other sports game out there with the minor, minor difference of being able to swing around the Gamecube Remote and really put myself “in the game”, so to speak. But that too got old after a while and nobody comes over to play it with me anymore and my fondue platter just sits there collecting dust :( Maybe when that Wii remake of the Gamecube’s Super Smash Brothers comes out, maybe then I’ll have some people over to laugh at the iffy graphics that this console puts out, because everybody knows that games are crap without 720p (or 1080p) graphics. Heh, all these suckers buying the Wii for games. It can’t even do high-definition graphics or play DVDs, let alone HD-DVD or BluRay!

    The really neat part that the Wii totally duplicated was the ability for the Gamecube to go online and download old console games, like those NES games most of us grew up on.

    So yeah, totally with you. The Xbox 360, when it’s not in the shop, and the PS3, when it’s not dusty, play tons of games in proper high definition, and you don’t have the humility of waving a crazy stick around in the air and having fun — these are serious gaming consoles that play serious games for serious people!

  20. spinachdip says:

    @vitonfluorcarbon:
    I can’t speak for the commenters here, but people don’t get “Wii” because they see it from a gamer’s POV, and Wii is not made for gamers. They made Wii for the general audience, who don’t care about degree of difficulty or graphics or game depth – they just want to have fun.

    The fact that you and your son both play it is what Nintendo had in mind, when they talked about bringing video games from bedrooms into living rooms.

    It’s really the same in any electronics category – there are people who judge products based on specs and features, and the 90% who just want a half decent user experience.

  21. overbysara says:

    Last week I had a wii party at work. I love my wii.

  22. SimonSwegles says:

    @parad0x360: You are wrong. The Wii is not an “overclocked” GC.
    You are wrong. The Wii is not a gimmick, it is a console gaming system that concentrates more on local multiplayer than any other, as well as supporting online multiplayer, right out of the box.
    You are wrong. There are great games out for Wii. Even with the crappy mono sound flaw, my kids, wife, and I play GH3 at least a couple times a week. I use it to download and play classic games, as well as GC awesomeness like Metroid Prime. Lego Star Wars is loads of fun, too, and gets play a couple times a week.

  23. amoeba says:

    This is really interesting. I live in a small town USA, we have all the “Most Hated” stores. All of them are out of stock with the Nintendo wii. I was lucky enough to buy one at my local Best Buy this Summer, there were only three boxes, I had one plus two guys. People saw us, and probably wishing that some of us will change our minds. I had kids following me (that was a bit uncomfortable). I love my wii, I know that the hype is Xbox 360 and PS3, but I am an old school gal whom grew up with Nintendo. I cannot tell you the fun I have right now playing Super Mario Galaxy. YAY!

    PS. At Sam’s Club and BBY still out of Stock!

  24. Buran says:

    Whatever happened to all those expensive consultants who get paid so much money to figure out how to exactly meet the exact amount of demand at the time that it’s happening? Where are they?

    I don’t want one of these but if I did I’d find a shop that took back orders, order, and just let them keep track of their existing orders and ship it when it came in. It is not my job to do stores’ work for them.

  25. Buran says:

    @Falconfire: Someone being wrong about a fact doesn’t make them an idiot. It just means they don’t know that fact.

  26. elisa says:

    I actually won my Wii in a raffle. It was the grand prize, and I hadn’t thought that I would win it. I haven’t played it much yet (no time), but I’m very happy with it so far :D

    and no, I’m not a gamer. Wiis are made for non-gamers, and that’s what I like about them. I want something intuitive to use, and fun to play. That’s the Wii’s target audience.

  27. JohnOB1 says:

    I like my Wii, don’t LOVE it, but it’s fun. The graphics no biggie, as Paradox360 says, the hardware is 7 years old. Prob. why they’re keeping a tight leash on it, they know it’s a glorified Gamecube and if floods the market, we’ll end up with a glut of Wii’s.

  28. sven.kirk says:

    I will believe the Wii is not a gimmick system when there are some games that do NOT rely motion sensitive controls (excluding VC games).

    Plus, the shortage now is really inexcusable now. They know that there a huge of a demand for the system. But they will not ramp up production.

  29. galactus5000 says:

    Wii = fun. It’s that simple. Yes, the graphics aren’t all that and a bag of chips unlike my 360 – but, unlike my 360, it’s never broken down.

    The controller may be a gimmick now, but so was the now standard controller layout back in the day, so was portable gaming. Hell, so were home video games, the ability to record things on the TV and rock’n’roll music.

  30. spinachdip says:

    @sven.kirk: Why?

  31. Blueoysterjoe says:

    I don’t agree with Mr. Tang and his fancy pants.

    The Wii isn’t something that Nintendo sells and forgets. Nintendo makes money on all the games it sells for the Wii.

    So, it may be true that Generic Toy A runs the risk of cheesing off retailers or missing out on the hype if it has too many in stores, but for every Nintendo Wii not on the shelf, Nintendo is losing money on games not being sold for it.

    Fancy pants economist needs to stick with what he knows.

  32. rikkus256 says:

    @parad0x360: Trying to find a wii without success huh?

  33. guroth says:

    Many people choose to believe that the Wii is a gimmick system because of the lackluster system specs and the motion controller.

    Most of the aforementioned people have not played any games on the Wii except for the ones based around the controller movement, like Wii Sports, Wario, or Rayman.

    The fact of the matter is that the remote/nunchaku combo is a comfortable way to play normal video as well since you do not have to hold your hands 2 inches apart the entire time, you can move your arms about as you deem comfortable.

    Zelda is a perfect example of a game you can spend hours in front of and not have your arms or hands become sore or cramp up from holding the controller the same way the entire time.

    Zelda had hardly any movement-based controls, and was in fact playable without movement controls at all (It was also released for the gamecube for use with a gamecube controller), you could even plug a gamecube controller into the Wii and play it using that.

    The fact of the matter is that the movement-controls made the game easier to play because instead of having to hold 2 buttons down at once or reach for a hard-to-reach hardly-ever-used button (white/black on xbox controller I’m looking at you) all you had to do was flick your wrist.

    Both the movement aspect and the modular-plug aspect of the wiimote are revolutionary in the console market and we WILL see much more of this from other consoles in the future.

  34. rikkus256 says:

    Wii is the best video game console ever. I’ve owned every major consoles: NES, SNES, N64, GameCube, Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS, PS2, PS3, Xbox, Xbox360, and Wii. Wii is by far the MOST fun consoles among them. Yes I know PS3 and 360 have 10x better graphics. But the “FUN” factor of Wii games are just unbelievable. Even my parents enjoy them as much as I do.

  35. Bunnymuffin says:

    @howie_in_az: LOL

    Just bought Super Mario Galaxy last night. Fun, Fun, Fun! Whee!

  36. Scuba Steve says:

    Sony flooded the market. Thats why all those people who paid thousands of dollars on Ebay were idiots since you could find one a week after launch with no one wanting to buy.

  37. SaraAB87 says:

    If you are a family with children then the Wii is probably the console for you, especially if you like shovelware games. If you are a gamer that does not have friends over regularly you will soon be bored with the Wii, the only good thing is that if you decide to sell your Wii you can probably get more for it than what you paid originally. This system is really targeted at the families with children and its the first Nintendo system that I can actually say is targeted mostly towards families with children. The gamecube was just kinda normal and even though people criticized that for being a kids system I didn’t really feel it was because it had plenty of games you could get into on it. The Wii just doesn’t have much long lasting gameplay, which makes the console boring for adults.

    The games library is improving but there are far more shovelware games and developers trying to cash in on the Wii’s success than there are decent games, this is a fact that Nintendo likes to hide. There’s probably 3% good games vs 97% bad games, Nintendo likes to hide this. The clerks at Gamestop here mostly tell customers buying the Wii to buy the first party Nintendo games and to avoid the others because they are bad. The truth is the game developers just stick anything on the shelves because they know people in America will buy anything for christmas if its targeted for kids.

    The DS is the winner system and has games for BOTH adults and children, and it also has many of the same games available as the Wii does, save mario galaxy. Looking at the release lists there is no reason to buy both consoles because its the same games on both save a few titles (unless of course your the type of person who likes paying twice for the same game…)

  38. UpsetPanda says:

    I do agree that the Wii is geared more toward non gamers…I have a Wii and my fiancee and I love it. We’re saving up for the 360 next because we are both gamers (both since we were kids) and like the selection of ‘hardcore’ games on the 360 better. The advantage of the Wii was that we could have our friends over and it wouldn’t be 5 people watching while two people played, it would be four people playing a game. Yes, it’s easier to play, but many people forget the basic reason to buy a console: TO HAVE FUN. If the Wii is fun for a lot of people, who are you to tell them they’re buying into a gimmick or give them crap about it?

  39. Usama says:

    Many people argue the system is made with common parts and so it shouldn’t be difficult to contract more manufacturers.

    I think the reason Nintendo doesn’t do this is two fold:
    1) Nintendo has always been a stickler for quality control, and so they’re very careful about who they pick and make sure the products that get their name on them are solid. So they probably don’t want to just contract anyone. Especially since the controller is not something they would trust to just any manufacturer (in terms of industry secrets).
    2) Nintendo suffered in the past 2 console generations (N64 and Gamecube) when compared to their competitors, and they don’t have the financial backing of their competitors. So from the get go they erred on the side of caution because at the time they could not afford to be wrong about how many consoles would be enough. Too much would have been costly to the company.

    Even now, although they’re making tons of money, they are probably being careful because as many have already said, it could be that this Wii thing is a fad. (Not for me though, I love my Wii). A similar thing thing happened with the Nintendo DS (especially after the redesigned version, ‘Lite,’ was introduced) but eventually Nintendo caught up to demand and now the thing still sells out but at least it isn’t difficult to find.

    So although I think at first Nintendo was erring on the side of caution, the truth is they would much rather be able to meet this holiday season demand. But there’s about a 5 month delay between asking for an increase in production and actually getting that increase, because it’s not just one company that’s making the console.

    Look at it this way: Nintendo sold something around 13 million Nintendo Wiis in 1 year, and the Xbox360 sold a slightly larger amount in 2 years. I understand that the Xbox360 is a far more advanced console and so much more difficult to manufacture, but still to be able to sell 13 million consoles (of a new design mind you, yes it is virtually the same as the Gamecube but still, there are enough differences to warrant caution in mass production) with very little production problems landing on the consumer’s shoulders is nothing short of impressive. Furthermore I’m sure loyal Consumerists have come across Nintendo stories on this website that exemplify their level of customer service. They go above and beyond in what use to be (and maybe still is?) the Japanese way of doing business.

  40. uricmu says:

    What I don’t get is how a console that is so freaking primitive in its hardware can be difficult to manufacture… Whereas the XBOX 360 and the Playstation 3 use complex processors, high-end graphics processors and have to power and cool the whole thing, the Wii is a lowly PowerPC. Should be a breeze to make them and yet they’re even more scarce now than they were last year.

    I love my Wii, but have no idea how a shortage is still possible.

  41. scoobydoo says:

    The whole Ebay thing is interesting. I wanted a Wii for my Wife, and of course ran into problems finding one. Ebay sales all ended around $550.

    Then finally I was alerted to them being in stock at Amazon. As I was ordering I suddenly thought about the $550 sales, and ordered 2 instead.

    One for my Wife, and one sold on Ebay for $580. Which paid for the first one AND all my fee’s AND some extra controllers.

    The last thing I wanted was to become another Ebay scalper, but when you have the chance to get a free Wii then it really does make sense. I feel sorry for whoever felt the need to pay me $580 for my Wii when I got it for $249, but it isn’t THAT hard to get them if you signup for the tracker sites or get in line at Bestbuy on a Sunday morning.

    I think there are 1000′s of people like me that saw this opportunity, and grabbed it.

  42. scoobydoo says:

    @uricmu: A component is a component. The hard part isn’t getting CPU’s, or video chips. The hard part is the logistics of assembling them and getting them where you need them.

    As long as the manufacturer of the chip doesn’t have issues making them, then it doesn’t matter whether you are ordering Cell processors (like in the PS3), Xbox GPU’s or Wii chips, when you order one million of something, the problems are going to be related to getting them made at the speed your customer wants and getting them to the customer on time.

  43. humorbot says:

    The shortage is largely a coastal (or urban-coastal) phenomenon, as best I can tell. Here in LA Wiis are nigh impossible to find. My friends who live in suburban Texas see them for sale at just about every Wal-Mart and Target around.

  44. The Bigger Unit says:

    Umm, it’s introductory economics. Keep supply short, demand up, and prices stay up too. Shift the supply curve right, and your prices drop…so why the hell do it if the brain-dead nation is still gobbling them up off the shelves?

  45. DrGirlfriend says:

    My husband is a gamer, I am not. But we are both really loving our Wii. I think what it comes down to, as pointed out already, is that it’s intuitive, easy to use, and simply fun. We also have a PS2 and my husband plays his more “gamer-like” games on that, but for simply relazing and having a good time, the Wii has been awesome. Our friends also have a great time with it when they come over. So, I don’t really care if some people don’t get it, or don’t like to wave a controller around, or think it’s a gimmick, or whatever. I really enjoy it.

  46. rbb says:

    In all the years I have watched video games consoles come and go, from the first Pong games to the present, the Wii is the only console that has managed to be the hottest console for two consecutive Christmases.

    From a business standpoint, their pricing model is something to be admired. $249 for the console. Oh, you want to have 2, 3, or 4 people playing at the same time – add $60 each for a remote and nunchuk. Want HD cables? Add $32.

    And people will pay those prices. Got mine yesterday at a Toys R Us. A friend called my wife and she made it in an hour later in the morning. They still had them in stock. ;)

  47. mac-phisto says:

    folks, nintendo is (& always has been) about the gimmick. c’mon. powerglove, anybody? virtual boy? nes zapper? e-reader? game boy player? should i keep going?

    that doesn’t mean nintendo games don’t rock…they do. but i won’t be buying a wii…at least not until they 1) release a constant stream of great video games or, 2) get someone else to do it for them.

    & when i say constant stream, i don’t mean:
    1st qtr: zelda
    2nd qtr: super paper mario
    3rd qtr: metroid
    4th qtr: super mario galaxy
    1st qtr: smash bros.
    2nd qtr: mario kart
    etc., etc.

    seriously?

    oh, incidentally, if you haven’t picked up super monkey ball, pick it up…it’s fun as hell.

  48. czarandy says:

    Why don’t they just increase the prices until they stop selling out. It seems obvious to me, but I have no idea why they don’t do it. Something like $300-350 should work. Then they can just lower the prices later as sales slow down.

  49. Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo’s U.S. division, denies this, saying Nintendo simply didn’t anticipate this level of demand for the Wii this holiday season

    That’s not what the guy at RadioShack told me… According to the manager there – who I overheard speaking to a customer seeking a Wii while I searched for decent items to build a DIY OTA HDTV Antenna – stated they only get 3 units a week and on random days so they couldn’t tell exactly when they would be released. He also said that some stores were even on a priority list for being able to possibly sell more units than others.

    I believe this a case to be the left hand catching your attention while the right hand does the dirty work (Sleight of hand trick).

  50. Usama says:

    @uricmu: It’s funny, right after my comment someone writes exactly what I wrote about. As the person a few comments after you said, the PC or the DVD drive isn’t necessarily the difficult part. It’s getting it all together, since they have different suppliers for each part. Also actually putting together the console may be in a different location as well. Finally, some parts like the remote control’s accelerometer, are probably specific to one contractor as the contractor would be privy to important design details. You can’t just run to another manufacturer and ask him/her to make the remotes. Remember that each Wii comes with a controller and so if you have a bottleneck there it could mess everything up. But at this point I don’t think you can trace it to any one component, it’s just that their manufacturing process isn’t all together so they are paying for it.

    Increasing the price? No no no! Nintendo prides itself on being the cheapest of the next-gen console. Plus it would be bad PR for Nintendo. Can you imagine? Here I am, I picked up the console when it released and paid $249. Now newer customers are being ripped off direct from the company, a year after it’s release, by a price increase? It would be seen as greedy, as “taking advantage of desperate parents.” Yes economically that is what should happen (and is happening on Craiglist or Ebay), but as a company you can’t afford to piss people off like that. In fact if people know the price increase temporary to deal with the demand, demand would drop immediately because most people would be twiddling their thumbs and waiting for the price to drop again. That is why I haven’t bought an Intel Q6600. What was supposed to be a $250 processor is sitting around $280-290 because of market demand. The first day when it was listed for $250 all retailers sold out immediately, as a consequence the price was increased to what you see today. The same applies to nVidia’s 8800GT. Sure they’re still selling, but the consumers are more technophiles who are willing to pay more and understand it is a market economy and everything. But I doubt temporary price increases wouldn’t sit well with parents.

  51. Usama says:

    Don’t you see? If Nintendo is holding back the supply of Wiis, they’re just going to earn the ire of every person out there. Nintendo would lose it’s good reputation as a customer-friendly company. I doubt they’d want to piss people off like that.

  52. uricmu says:

    @scoobydoo: I disagree. A component is not simply a component and I doubt assembly is a problem. Nintendo is even better positioned than American companies to exploit the vast manufacturing potential of Asia.

    The problem is usually when you have a component that can only be manufactured by highly specialized locations.

    Having worked at a large chipmaker, I can understand if the top-of-the-top processors that require a special manufacturing process are available in small companies because very few plants are fitted to that.

    I can understand when flash memories or large LCDs are available in limited quantities (flashback two years ago and iPod and digital camera shortages) because at the time manufacturing was complicated and wasn’t prepared for the demand.

    But a bunch of old technologies assembled together? Sorry, I don’t buy it. And Nintendo is missing on a lot of money because the best sellers are Nintendo games.

  53. uricmu says:

    @Usama: I don’t think that the blame is with the controller because these are more available than popup ads on a porn site. They’re so available that toys r us frequently has sales on them. The problem appears to be with the console. And honestly, after reading the bill-of-materials on it (any google search will do), I don’t see why this would be difficult to either manufacture or assemble.

    In fact, a DS may be much more difficult to make and they’ve been making loads.

    Unlike Microsoft or sony, Nintendo doesn’t sell anything except video games. You’re telling me a company with that market cap can’t get its way?

  54. uricmu says:

    @The Bigger Unit: Umm, introductory economics?

    Your “Keep supply short, demand up, and prices stay up too. Shift the supply curve right, and your prices drop” would make sense if the profits were from the console. The real profits are from selling games.

    Every extra copy of Super Mario Galaxy costs them 1$ (marginal) and retails for 50$. Most people who buy a Wii would buy that. Same goes for Zelda, Super smash brothers, etc. etc., and of course, the percentage they get off games from other manufacturers.

  55. mattshu says:

    Our family is getting a Wii for Christmas this year. Our kids are young and love to play it becaust they can play it without having to worry about acute hand-eye coordination movements that normal controllers rely on.

    Also, thanks to selling a few on ebay, I could tell our kids that Christmas was brought to them by Nintendo, not Santa.

  56. shiftless says:

    Nintendo isn’t just making nearly 2 MILLION Wii units every month but are churning out millions of DS units as well, which continue to sell extremely well. Nintendo can only produce so much every month. Heck, it sold 3 million more Wii units than they originally predicted. Overall, I think their manufacturing operation is at max capacity.

    Don’t get mad at Nintendo if you didn’t get a Wii for Christmas, be mad at yourself because they’ve been announcing shortages ALL YEAR LONG!!!

  57. Usama says:

    @uricmu: I was just giving the controller as an example, I didn’t think it was the problem either, mainly because as you said they’re so very easy to find.

    Again, I think the bottleneck is actually a problem in the design of their manufacturing. If everything was done in-house it wouldn’t be a problem.

    I also agree, it’s probable that the DS is harder to make, but it’s also a more mature product than the Wii. Ofcourse, I don’t know why Nintendo can’t meet the demand, all I’m saying is I doubt it’s deliberate. Holding back supply is not a good business move given these circumstances. Not only do you lose potential sales, you may actually help your competitors and alienate people (as many here are upset that they can’t find one and believe Nintendo to be holding out).

    URIMCU is right in that the profits are in the games. But I’m also sure you know that the Wii does make them money as well. Not nearly as much of a margin as a video game, but it’s profit nonetheless. Here is yet another reason Nintendo would want to sell as many consoles as it can.

  58. Usama says:

    @Usama: Actually, I didn’t mean “if everything was done in-house it wouldn’t be a problem.” because, you know what? it probably would be .. the demand is just too much.

  59. Topcat says:

    @rbb: Clearly you missed this one called the Playstation 2: it was the hottest selling console for 2 holiday seasons, easy: it’s release year and the following were utterly dominated by PS2 sales if not for another year or two after.

    @humorbot: Not really. Wii’s are easiest to find in big cities because they get resupplied on a much more regular basis. West coast cities even moreso because they get shipped in to North America via San Francisco and Vancouver.

    As far as a manufacturing bottleneck goes, I don’t buy it. I think Nintendo’s building at capacity, and raising that capacity takes a lot of time and resources. They anticipated being able to stockpile over the summer (as they say, which is good logic based on past summer console sales), which they couldn’t, and now they’re left with a shortage and no way to quickly increase production. But seriously, if you’re smart about it, there’s no reason that you couldn’t have gotten one for retail price in the past year.

    As for some of you saying that the hardware is the same as the Gamecube: it isn’t. It’s very similar, however. There’s still a PowerPC CPU in there, and there’s an ATI GPU based closely on the ‘Flipper’ from the Gamecube, but since they share very few parts, there’s no efficiency to be had from Gamecube manufacturing. That, and Nintendo never manufactured the Gamecube in the numbers they’ve had to for the Wii.

    It’s a gaming phenomenon, yes, but it has the recent Nintendo plague: you get one fantastic Nintendo release every quarter, and the rest of the games are slag, with a few pleasant surprises. Cool for young families, but I don’t get a lot of mileage out of mine, aside from some nostalgic VC releases and Mario/Metroid.

  60. Usama says:

    @Topcat: Well put. Except for that last bit, since I get plenty of mileage out of mine. It is the only console I have. That and a Nintendo DS. And a Gamecube (but well, it’s been made obsolete now). I don’t game a lot (unless it’s Mario or Zelda), so the Wii is perfect for my needs. For anything more (Bioshock, for example, or The Orange Box) I use my PC. But I don’t hate the other consoles, they’re just not my thing. I respect what the Xbox360 has done for community-oriented gaming.

  61. Giolon says:

    My local Target got a shipment of 37 today, and there were only 25 people waiting in line to get one.

  62. uricmu says:

    Usama: I was going to say that consoles are a headache to the producing companies because of the need to maintain them, but then I realized that this problem mostly applies to Microsoft.

    My Microsoft XBOX 360 was noisy out-of-the-box, and scratches discs like crazy (it’s a known problem), as for some reason MS couldn’t design a DVD drive of the same quality as a 10$ chinatown dvd player.

    On the other hand, my Wii had travelled around the country, and got knocked over many times while running (our Roomba seems to want to mate with it). Still works perfectly.

  63. mechanismatic says:

    I didn’t have any trouble because I haven’t bothered to purchase a Wii. I don’t regret missing out paying too much for a console when it’s in high demand. By the time I come around to purchasing one, it’ll be much cheaper and easier for me to find at a store and the games will be better and the older games that are worth playing will be cheaper.

  64. rich815 says:

    All you people who think Wii is silly or nothing special are likely the same ones who thought Google at $100 the first day it traded was a bad investment…

  65. Buran says:

    @rich815: You do realize that dotcom stocks largely are bad investments, so it’s a perfectly valid viewpoint? We’re not psychic.

  66. coren says:

    I can’t even begin to figure out how many posts I’d have to reply to in order to respond to all the points I’d like to, so forget that..

    As far as graphics go..anyone who wasn’t already aware that the wii had amped up GC graphics and that’s it probably didn’t care about them. Sure, you can see some real pretty stuff on the 360 or PS3, but I’m buying my console to have fun. Which means gameplay is definitely the more important aspect of the console, and the games I have, well..have it.

    The controller as a gimmick..well, yeah. Is there something wrong with that? It’s worked pretty freaking well for guitar hero and the Nintendo DS. Nintendo tried something different, and it worked. Good for them. And as far as games without using the wiimote’s motion sensing goes..why would companies focus on that when the whole idea of the system is this new innovative control system? Not that there aren’t games that won’t offer you options..the upcoming Super Smash title instantly comes to mind. But when I’m playing Metroid Prime, I’ve got great control that I could never seem to manage with a PC or a console.

    Why stores don’t get a lot? Well, I don’t know what Radio Shack whoever was visiting, but I’ve never been in one that’s much bigger than a few hundred square feet, tops. They don’t carry much in the way of video games, they’re not one of those one stop shopping places like a Target or Walmart, they simply do not have the business to support more than say, 6 wiis a month or something along those lines. Of course a Best Buy or Circuit City or what have you is getting more, and of course higher population areas are getting more. You put your product where the greatest demand and audience will be able to get it. It makes perfect sense to do it that way.

    On profitability..the 360 and PS3 may rely on games for their profit, but right now, Nintendo profits on console sales alone. Every Wii they sell makes them money before you even add another Wiimote, Nunchuck, Metroid Prime or whatever. Combine that with selling the most consoles thus far in this generation, and I’d say Nintendo’s in great shape.

  67. Plat says:

    The Circuit City in Green Bay, WI lets us special-order Wiis “as long as the system allows it”. They don’t guarantee the system on a specific date, but I got mine within a few days. No money down either.

    Kudos to them for not forcing customers to stand out in the cold for hours. I hope other stores follow suit with a waiting list.

  68. Topcat says:

    @Usama: I’m not a fan of how off-topic this has gotten, but here’s my take: I’ve got all three systems. The Wii I play when a major Nintendo release comes out (Metroid, Mario….) or when people are over (well, before Rock Band changed that scenario). There’s been a more consistent stream of worthwhile releases on the PS3, let alone the 360 (though I end up playing a lot of games on the 360 on the PC instead). For a non-casual gamer, there just isnt enough going on with the Wii: I can satiate myself with VC releases, but there’s only so much Super Metroid even I can play. Now, if they could coax some SNES RPGs onto the VC for download…

    Like I said, great for the kind of people who can get their fix from Wii Sports and casually plug away at Galaxy, for sure.

  69. rbb says:

    @Topcat: While the PS2 may have dominated the console market, after the initial release, they were easy to find after that. The Wii on the other hand has been “scarce” ad difficult to find for its entire run. Christmas 2007 has made that shortage even worse.

  70. Caswell says:

    @parad0x360:

    Shortages of the Wii make sense because Nintendo is a.) a conservative business and b.) paranoid.

    They got burned, and hard, with the GameCube. They expected huge demand, and when sales had gone into the dumper within months of its release they had no choice but to slash the price. Negative press ensues, causing a cycle of bad press that culminates in Nintendo shutting down the manufacturing facilities that just years before they were convinced they’d need.

    Nintendo is still worried that the Wii bubble will burst. If they ramp up capacity to meet current demand, what do you expect them to do with that capacity when demand reaches more sane levels?

  71. @Shadowfire: “If Nintendo could double production overnight, I really think they would.”

    (Someone may have already said this farther down)

    I’ve been reading that Japanese companies are pretty conservative about ramping up production, and that Nintendo had a bad experience with overproducing GameCubs, so while they ARE increasing production, they’re not doing it at a rate an American company would — not to increase hype, but because it’s considered good business sense in Japan.

    @Zombietime: “I just don’t see why it’s so popular.”

    Because my GRANDPA can play it. And I can beat my little brother at boxing.

    My husband and I grew up gamers, but now that we’re about 30, we just don’t have the interest in investing 100 hours of gaming into a game anymore. We LIKE video games, but they’re not our primary source of entertainment. So even for us “graduate gamers,” the casual gaming of the Wii provides an excellent experience; we can play something engaging for a couple hours and then PUT IT DOWN.

    We skipped the Game Cube in favor of the X-Box, so we’re actually getting some good “deep” RPG gameplay from Game Cube games we missed (Fire Emblem, Tales of Symphonia) while we wait for 3rd-party developers to come out with RPGs. (Or while we wait for my little brother to come kill that damn-ass second pig on the bridge thing in Zelda, because I am apparently not that coordinated when using my not-thumbs.)

    Anyone who doesn’t understand the appeal of the Wii needs to go rent Trauma Center. Best. Game. Evah.

    @guroth: “Zelda is a perfect example of a game you can spend hours in front of and not have your arms or hands become sore”

    Apparently your sword-swinging is a little more conservative than mine, lol!

  72. Sure, you want the Wii now, but your passions are fleeting and unreliable.

    But isn’t that a reason to make more not less? Aren’t they supposed to get me to buy one while I still want one and before the games I want become impossible to find?

  73. davebg5 says:

    Here is why it make no sense for Nintendo to purposely cause a Wii shortage…the casual gamer market.

    The reason that the Wii is outselling the PS3 and 360 is b/c they are tapping into the casual gamer market. Casual gamers are not obsessed like your average gamer. When they go to the store and they are out of stock on the Wii, those casual gamers are not going to then go and search in five other stores…they are not going to keep coming back and check every day to see if the store got any more in stock.

    It is truly a lost sale (unless they’re trying to get it for their kid).

  74. bodi says:

    @Zombietime: I agree with you 100%, I think that the Wii is totally gay and it has an even gayer name. I don’t want to play games moving and shaking a controller around, I’ll take a dpad, two analog sticks, and good ol button mashing anyday.

    All my friends, nieces and nephews and their friends too, (who range in age from teen to adult) do not want or have no desire to play the Wii. Sure, I tried it, they tried it and we all think that it sucks big time.

    I know you can still use that crappy controller like
    a normal one but it simply has no games good enough to justify the purchase. I’ve been over Zelda since OOT and over Mario since sunshine. Theres just not that one killer game that would make me buy the system. They should stick to handhelds.

  75. MeOhMy says:

    As a producer of something, you can’t really control demand, but you can certainly control supply. Keeping the supply just a little short seems like a good strategy to keep prices and demand up for awhile AND saves money since you didn’t just produce 500,000 units at today’s cost that you will have to cut prices on in 6 months in order to get them moving.

    So it makes sense…but it also seems like the supply is way too short for a system that’s been out so long. At this point I might as well just wait for the next gen to come out and get a Wii for under $100 just like I did with Dreamcast and ‘Cube. If I could have gotten one easily, I’d probably have paid the $300+ at some point over the last year.

  76. LTS! says:

    Those who do not understand the economics of supply and demand should consult someone who does.

    Every day Nintendo is leaving money on the table because people can’t buy the system. However, there is a large production boost coming (1Q 2008 supposedly) and the gray market for Wiis will probably collapse at that point.

    Sooner or later everyone will get a Wii, those who work harder will get them sooner. I myself would love to have one but I just don’t have the desire to put in the time to find one. The conversations online all point now to a collective hold on Wii stock until 12/16. A kind of last minute Christmas video game bonanza. So be it.. sadly I will be away on vacation. Oh well.

  77. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @howie_in_az:

    Hi-Def graphics are a waste of time if the game isn’t any fun.

  78. Usama says:

    @Topcat: That’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m not what you would call a steady(?) gamer. I do try to make time to play the big name games (I’ll try to get to Crysis?, and I have Bioshock) but casual gaming is what I need. Medical school makes it difficult to sit for hours through a game. I love that I can just open my DS and it’ll start Zelda where I left off, and then I can forget about it for weeks. Mario Galaxy affords me the same pick and play attitude. Well you’re right, we are way off topic but I just wanted to say that I agree with the points you made earlier on about the Wii in general, and the Wii fits my needs but I completely understand if it doesn’t fit other people’s needs.

    @URICMU: Yup, I’ve never had a problem with a Nintendo console because of the quality that goes into each build. Wow your Wii has certainly travelled! Haha, your Roomba wants to mate with it.. good one.

  79. zibby says:

    PS3, good seats still available! Anyone? Anyone…?

  80. Wormfather says:

    A profitable product can easily become a money sink if you flood the market, I respect what they’re doing, it’s called fiscal responsibility.

  81. scoobydoo says:

    @uricmu: Once again; this has nothing to do with the technology. They could make the Wii out of wooden blocks and they’d still run into shortages. When you need 2 million of something a month it doesn’t matter what it is you need, it’s going to be a problem.

    The Wii uses a fairly basic DVD drive. But no matter how basic it is, Panasonic is going to have a harder time delivering those than Sony is getting 150k Bluray drives made on time, despite the BD drive being far harder to make.

    Two million old technology PPC chips are harder to get your hands on than 150k Cell processors.

    Even just the logistics of shipping and storing that many parts is mind boggling. They are looking at 70000 of each and every component EVERY DAY. Can you imagine how much space that requires just to store? 70000 dvd drives, 70000 cpu’s, 70000 user manuals…

    Then you have the logistics of getting them across the ocean on time. Let us assume that Nintendo assigns half their production to the US, that is still 35k boxes a day. With weekly shipments that means someone has to transport a quarter of a million units AND get them in stores.

    I know we are now way off topic, but anyone that thinks that Nintendo “should just make more” clearly underestimates the challenges Nintendo is facing.

    Now I’m off to ship my $580 Wii to my poor Ebay buyer and play some Paper Mario after that on my free Wii.

  82. majortom1981 says:

    First off , The wii is not an overclocked gamecube. The gamecube did not have wifi hardware, it did not have motion controls, and it did not have onboard memory.

    Second the powerglove was not made byt nintendo it was made bby matel.

    Nintendo does not want to make too many wii’s otherwise they will be left with all these extra wii’s laying around.

    Also the demand for the wii is huge, blame all the people going into the store buying 5 or 6 at a shot and selling them all on ebay. I bet if stores limited purchases to one only you would see more.

    Also please keep in mind the system has been in high demand since it came out. Not just for christmas. Christmas added to the already crazy demand.

    Also the wii is not a gimmik .Just look at the ds. All the same comments were made towards the ds and look how its still selling.

  83. majortom1981 says:

    The dvd drive is not basic either. Its a slot loading drive that accepts mini dvds as well . That is a great improvement and something that very few if any other SLOT laoding drives do.

  84. rockosolido says:

    So, Reggie scrambles to cover his ass by lying through his teeth? Makes sense, afterall, he is the president of a company division.

    The Wii has been “available” to market for over a year now, if initial sales didn’t make it obvious enough that this was an in-demand product, Nintendo must have some serious issues. Let’s not pretend even for a second that product reps, company devs, buyers/vendors and anyone else associated with the company don’t check in on consumer opinions via blogs, forums, or other sites. There’s entire research analysis departments devoted to web crawling in various companies across the board, the shortage of product has been known since it first became an issue.

    Does Reggie honestly believe by leaving customers begging for product and retail without a surplus of stock make for good business? Of course not, you’re not elected to head of the U.S. division by being completely pants-on-head retarded (thank you, Zero Punctuation). I’ve seen several managers and store managers chewed out by angry customers because they were just one person in line away from getting a Wii, both in my store and other retail chains. It actually lead to the cancellation of future shipments to my Costco after our warehouse manager decided it wasn’t worth the hassle we’ve been dealing with for the last year.

    I see that trend continuing, why create unnecessary stress and backlash when one can simply eliminate the source of the problem by refusing to carry a product? THAT is what will hurt Nintendo.

  85. Usama says:

    @rockosolido: This is my point. Why would any company purposely work to earn this much hate from a potential customer. Like you said, it isn’t good business. They’ve made a mistake, they misjudged the demand. Whatever happened, I doubt this is where they want to be. Things are only going to get worse when Wii Fit comes out.

    If your CostCo doesn’t want to deal with it anymore, that’s fine. In fact that is good news for other stores in the area (or other CostCos, depending on how it all works).

  86. ChrisPC24 says:

    They weren’t hard to find a couple months ago. I saw them in Target and Wal-Mart several times. The demand has just increased massively. They’ll probably be easy to find again after Christmas.

  87. JMH says:

    Well, here’s on reason:

    [consumerist.com]

  88. Topcat says:

    @rbb: Sorry bub, I was a video game retailer when the PS2 came out: it was hard to get for 2 holiday seasons in a row. Sure, they flooded the market with them after that, but your point was that there ‘wasn’t a hot console for 2 years running before the Wii’, when actually, there was.

  89. spinachdip says:

    Why do people think production is something a company can turn on and off like a faucet? Nintendo isn’t Sony or Microsoft – it’s a relatively small company that can’t afford to lose money on Wii. They can’t just go out and throw money around just because there’s a cow to be milked.

  90. @Jaysyn: Amen. I’m not particularly interested in the X-Box 360 because I played Halo the first time, and frankly I’m sick of first-person shooters. They’re all more or less the same, and while every now and then one stands above the pack (Halo), after 23 years of FPSs, I’m just bored of shooting things.

  91. zibby says:

    @spinachdip: Well, you’re right to an extent. In terms of sales and number of employees, Nintendo is much smaller than Microsoft and Sony – in terms of market cap, they’re still much smaller than Microsoft, but larger than Sony – ~$87b vs. ~$55. Things have been going great for them, but what you might be call being conservative I would call screwing up their supply/demand estimates. Last year they had an excuse; despite the big talk, I think even Nintendo executives were thinking that this would likely end up being a solid niche product, and they planned appropriately. Not so this year. They’re leaving money on the table, they’re annoying potential customers, and they should have planned better. I agree, foresight-wise it’s not as bad as making 20 million E.T. cartridges and dumping ‘em in a landfill, but eventually people will get frustrated and say, “Screw it, I’ll just buy the 360.” Anecdotally speaking, I know a couple of people who have done just that.

    Thankfully, I’m all about the Counter-Strike.

  92. hexychick says:

    @Zombietime: because anyone can play it from small kids up to seniors. The other systems with their complicated controllers closed out a big section of the population just because of the controllers. Hell, I wouldn’t even bother past the N64 but I played the Wii with the boyfriends family and ALL of us could do it and we had fun. That’s why everyone likes it. I figured it was because of it’s popularity across the ages that it was so hard to find.

  93. drjayphd says:

    @Jaysyn: Satire. :D

  94. The Bigger Unit says:

    @LTS!: Pffft, no consultation needed, putz. For an expert in economics, perhaps you should think about “diminishing returns”. Maybe they’re leaving money on the table in your eyes, but maybe in their eyes it’s not worth pumping up production to simply sell more units (you know, with money needing to be expended for capital and overtime…), glut the market, aaaand….as a result, have the price go down when the market hits a new equilibrium. And the guy who thinks they aren’t making profits on the Wii…HAHA, okay buddy. Enjoy your time a daze.

  95. zibby says:

    @The Bigger Unit: Well, remember that the point of making consoles isn’t to sell consoles, but to sell games. THAT – along with whatever licensing agreements Nintendo may wish to grant – is the continuing revenue stream that will make the platform exceptionally profitable in the long run. Classic razors/blades model. Even if Nintendo is making a profit on the consoles, it ain’t huge and it’s a one shot. More consoles = more games = more sustainable profits. That’s why the supply shortage is a misstep. I totally understand their initial conservatism, but at this point they know it’s a hit. You want this thing to take root in as mant households as possible.

  96. Upsilon says:

    Ok, on topic:
    I solved this problem by waiting overnight before the day they were released.
    Off topic:
    I freaking love all of these fanboys insulting the Wii. I personally cannot stand the PS3, but you won’t see me insulting it. It’s a powerful system with amazing graphics and great 3rd-party games, but it’s just not for me. Most of this is that I get all dyslexic with the PS2 and PS3 controllers. But it’s a good system.
    Nevertheless, I’m a Wii man (insert Jackass joke here). I won’t lie, I’m quite loyal to Nintendo. However, I enjoy being able to play all of my Gamecube games on it, and I am also highly anticipating Super Smash Bros Brawl. Once I come into some money (and yes, a euphemism just entered my head too), I plan on aquiring Super Mario Galaxy too.
    To defend the motion control, I will admit that I bought Need For Speed ProStreet last Friday. I was at first put off because of the control scheme, worrying that it would clusterf*ck me like Carbon, but the controls are amazingly fluid. The Wii Remote (OMG I resisted saying Wiimote!) is quite a versatile little tool. It’s made this game pretty fun. I can’t wait to get off work and go play it some more.
    I guess I’m not like a lot of gamers. Despite wanting to go into the Graphic Design profession, graphics are not what matter to me in a game. What matter to me are control, physics, interest sustainability, and surprise. Give me a stick fighter, and I’ll play the living sh*t out of it.
    And I guess that concludes my rant.

    Y