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Christmas News Hoping to get Wii for Christmas? Do not count on it

Date: 12/25/2007 1:36:28 AM

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 check program.

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 Jan. 29.

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 customers.

To find the hours of a bigbox store near you, call 888BESTBUY, 866KMART4U, 8004400680 (Target) or 8008432489 (Circuit City).

Web sites such as 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 to fill out registration and credit card information before the limited number of video game systems sell out.

Meanwhile, GameStop regularly takes deposits on hot software titles before they launch, which means it has the infrastructure to deal with rain check program, FilsAime said.

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 demand.

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 Friday.

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 meet it.

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