NEW YORK To deal with frustration among holiday shoppers hunting for its Wii
game console, Nintendo Co. and retailer GameStop Corp. are launching a rain
We expect this to be a great way for consumers who desperately want a Wii to
have something to put under the tree, Nintendo of America President Reggie
FilsAime said last week.
The rain checks will be available at the regular Wii system price, $249.99, on
Thursday and Friday, and will entitle buyers to get the Nintendo console before
FilsAime said many tens of thousands of rain checks would be available.
Other options exist. Bigbox retailers usually put their new Wii shipments on
store shelves on Sundays, so being the first in line at a WalMart, Circuit City
or Best Buy can give you a chance at getting a video game system. But expect to
pay more than $250, as those stores generally bundle the Wii system with games
and other accessories that push the price into the $500 range. Also, you might
not want to endure December temperatures to wait an hour or more with other Wiihungry
To find the hours of a bigbox store near you, call 888BESTBUY, 866KMART4U,
8004400680 (Target) or 8008432489 (Circuit City).
Web sites such as wiitracker.com will email you when stores such as Amazon
announce they have Wiis in stock.
But if you get an email alert, youll have to act fast youre competing with
thousands of other Wii hunters on wiitracker.com to fill out registration and
credit card information before the limited number of video game systems sell
Meanwhile, GameStop regularly takes deposits on hot software titles before they
launch, which means it has the infrastructure to deal with rain check program,
The company is working with other retailers, including WalMart Stores Inc. and
Best Buy Co., to push out inventory from the supply chain to shelves as quickly
as possible before Christmas, he added.
The Wii has been a startling success for the Japanese company, selling more than
6 million units in the U.S. since it was launched a little more than a year ago.
In November alone, 981,000 were sold in the U.S., according to NPD Group. That
compares with 770,000 Microsoft Xbox 360s sold, and 466,000 Sony PlayStation 3s.
For the month of November, the top five bestselling games for the console were
Super Mario Galaxy, Play, Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, Mario and
Sonic: Olympic Games and High School Musical: Sing It, according to industry
researcher NPD Group.
However, Wii sales have been constrained by supply, with units selling out
minutes after going on shelves. Nintendo has repeatedly denied rumors that it is
creating an artificial shortage by not increasing production to keep up with
I get personal calls from people wanting to know why we dont just manufacture
more. If it were that easy, we would, FilsAime said on a conference call
Production depends on components from a wide array of suppliers. If only one
cant increase their capacity, then we cant increase ours, the executive said.
After Nintendo raised production twice since April, production for the worldwide
market is now at 1.8 million Wiis a month.
FilsAime said he holds out no hope of an imminent increase.
Well keep producing at that level for quite a while, he said. When will we
finally meet demand? There is no way to answer that question until we finally
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