The new generation of video gaming is officially here with
today’s launch of Nintendo Wii. The premiere launch site at the NYC Times
Square Toys “R” Us saw a midnight release with 3,000 gamers in attendance of
the launch event.
Unlike the mayhem of the PlayStation 3 launch, the Wii
launched with little bloodshed. Much of this is due to the fact that Nintendo
is providing ample supply of its new console across the nation. Everyone who
attended the launch event in New York who was interested in purchasing a
console was able to, thanks to a stockpile of 4,000 units at that location alone.
Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime made the
usual head-honcho appearance that’s become common with new console releases.
Fils-Aime was there to hand the very first Wii to Isaiah “Triforce” Johnson,
29, who had been waiting outside the store for several days. “I had to get it
first,” he explained. Johnson couldn’t have shown his dedication any stronger,
who wore a black leather Nintendo coat, a Zelda sweatshirt and NES-relic Power
Glove when he shook hands with the Nintendo President. And now, he’ll be able
to add another piece of Nintendo memorabilia to his collection, as he had
Fils-Aime personalize his Wii with a signature.
While “Triforce” may look like a dedicated Nintendo fan, he
waited in line in similar fashion for the Xbox 360 last year. When CNET
asked him why he didn’t camp out for the PlayStation 3, he shook his head and
said, “I didn't want to get involved in the mayhem … and it's not worth the
risk of danger.”
At the other end of the country, Nintendo hosted its launch
at the EB Games in Universal City Walk with Senior VP Marketing George Harrison
to do the honors. Over a thousand gamers showed up for the event, and at the
very front of the line was Jonathan Mann, dressed in Mario cosplay garb.
After ringing through his purchase, Mann hoisted the console
above his head for all the world to see. “I'm really excited. You have no idea
how excited I am. Seriously. I've been waiting for this since 1991,” he said in
this GameSpot report, with no apparent explanation
on what he thought of the Nintendo 64 in 1996 and GameCube in 2001.
Like his Times Square counterpart, Mann waited at the front
of the line for nearly two days prior to launch. “I'm a little delirious. I've
been up for about 40 hours straight. But I've got it in my hands now and it
feels good,” said Mann to AP,
adding that he has written songs and posted videos about the console for his Web
site, GameJew. In his latest
video, he sang “Wii Means You and Me” and “The Wind Whispers Wii” to a group of
console pre-order onlookers.
Here at DailyTech,
our staff scoured the all over the city to get a better picture of the demand
behind the Wii. Big box stores such as Best Buy and Wal-Mart had campers early
the night before and easily sold out hours before official store opening.
Perhaps after experiencing the chaos of PlayStation 3,
retailers were bit smarter in organizing crowds. Store managers handed out numbered
tickets to those in line, where each ticket would represent a guaranteed
console. Those who received a ticket could rest easy that their spot in line
was secured, and those without tickets could leave to scavenge elsewhere. Despite
the many times the available launch units of PlayStation 3, the Wii is selling
out in all major centers. In fact, this editor had to hit a Blockbuster Video
store at a remote location to find a console with extra Wiimotes and Nunchuks.
The difference between today’s sell out and that of PlayStation
3 from Friday is that Nintendo is shipping at least four times the units
between now and the holiday season, assuring that nearly everyone’s Christmas
list will be satisfied. On the other hand, some retailers aren’t expecting to
have any additional PlayStation 3 consoles until after the New Year.
In an interview
with GameSpot, Reggie Fils-Aime
had some advice for those who are left Wii-less after today, saying that those
people “should not give up hope, but they should prepared to be fast on their
feet.” He reaffirms that Nintendo is committed to
delivering 4 million units by December 31, adding that North America will
command the largest share of shipments.
“[Demand] is what will drive shortages, that is what will
drive stock out. It's not an inability to manufacture, which is what is
plaguing our competition, our biggest issue is going to be an inability to
satisfy the demand,” said Fils-Aimes. “So, if I'm a consumer, I'm going to want
to keep calling and going to all of the likely suspects: my EB and GameStop
stores, my Best Buy, my Circuit City, my Target, my
Wal-Mart--everywhere--because they're all going to have it at some point in
time. But when they're in, they're going to be gone immediately.”
Wii consoles are not fetching nearly the coin on eBay
that PlayStation 3 is, but most sellers are still doubling their investment as
the average selling price hovers around the $500 mark. Auction prices may fall
when the general public finds out that Wii consoles likely won’t face the same
supply issues as PlayStation 3 are and the Xbox 360 did last year. Fils-Aime
also had something to say about gamers and online auctions.
“The other challenge, frankly, for consumers, is that unlike
our competition, you're probably not going to see a lot of units on eBay,” he
reckoned. “All of the stories that I've seen of people who have been waiting
and getting their preorders in, a lot of these folks get asked, 'You gonna go
put this on eBay?' And for PS3, people are saying, 'Yeah, I'm hoping to strike
it rich on PS3.' For Wii, they're saying, 'No. I want to buy this and play it.'”