updated 01:40 pm EST, Fri December 14, 2007
Nintendo Wii Rainchecks
Nintendo today took the unusual step of launching a raincheck program with the American retailer GameStop for its Wii console to cope with demand. Similar to a pre-order, customers buying the system on December 20 and 21 will be able to pay for a system with a promise of receiving the system in January. GameStop has declined to say how many of the devices will be available in the program but says that "tens of thousands" will be available across the company's stores. Nintendo itself will supply a stream of consoles next week but is unlikely to have enough to meet demand, says the console designer's US chief, Reggie Fils-Aime.
Contrary to trends for most consoles, the Wii's demand largely increased over the course of the summer, forcing Nintendo to up production during the off-peak season. Even at a new rate of 1.8 million systems produced per month, however, the company says it does not have the demand to satisfy users in all areas until early next year at the soonest.
"We didn't expect... to throw out the whole playbook and essentially create a whole new level of sell-through for this industry," says Fils-Aime. "You can't plan for that."
Sales of the PS3 and Xbox 360 have also increased due to the holiday season spike but have generally remained cooler due to their elevated prices compared to the Nintendo system, which sells for about $30 less than the lowest-cost Xbox. [via Crave]