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Why You Can't Find a Wii for Christmas 450

Nintendo is making Wii consoles at a record pace, some 1.8 million a month. Last week they sold 350,000 units. Yes, just last week. And yet, still, it's going to be almost impossible to find a Wii in a store this Christmas. Wired reports that the problem actually began back in August. Summer being the traditional 'dry' season in gaming usually leads to hardware surpluses, but not with Nintendo's console. The result is a holiday season that Nintendo essentially couldn't prepare for. "Demand for Wii is so high, says analyst Michael Pachter, because of all the different types of consumers competing for the units ... it's not just kids who crave Wii. [It's] an especially big hit at retirement homes ... Hard-core gamers, who initially spurned the Wii's lower graphic power compared to the Xbox and PlayStation 3, have changed their tune on the console, thanks to brilliant software like the first-person shooter Metroid Prime 3. And eBay scalpers? They really want Wii." In fact, the only reliable way to get your hands on a Wii is to go that most dubious of routes. Ebay Wii sales are very brisk indeed this week.
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Why You Can't Find a Wii for Christmas

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  • The math? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by halcyon1234 ( 834388 )

    350,000 sold x 4 (weeks per month) = 1.4million sold per month

    They make 1.8 million a month.

    If they're making more than they're selling, why is it so hard to find a console?

    • Re:The math? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MagusZeal ( 1156955 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:26PM (#21519203)
      I'd assume that's worldwide production and the sales figure is US.
      • Re:The math? (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheThiefMaster ( 992038 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:37PM (#21519393)

        I'd assume that's worldwide production and the sales figure is US.
        From one of the article links:

        Nintendo's 350,000 Wii systems represent the highest one-week U.S. sales total outside of its launch week one year ago.
        So yes, that's US sales.
        From another article link:

        We're at a rate now worldwide of about 1.8 million Wiis produced every month
        So yes, that worldwide production.

        In fact:

        About 40 percent of Wii sales have been in America
        So the US only gets 720,000/month, so the 350,000 sold was two weeks' worth, sold in one week (presumably followed by a week of nearly no sales until the next deliveries). As a rough estimate, that means that Nintendo's Wii production is about half what the demand is. And because of this:

        It takes about five months for us to increase the actual monthly rate of production's not going to get any better before Christmas.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by bewmIES ( 251890 )
      Last week was an outlier -- Black Friday here in the US.
      • Black Friday is a myth. The busiest shopping day is Christmas Eve.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by ByOhTek ( 1181381 )
          A couple people I know in retail disagree with you.

          The top three days seem to be:

          1) Day after Christmas (all the sales, money and gift cards)
          2) Black Friday
          3) Christmas Eve

          #3 usually comes in second place, with #1 or #3 coming in first, and the other second, depending on the store.
          • Re:The math? (Score:5, Informative)

            by plague3106 ( 71849 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:48PM (#21519619)
            Maybe you should check this [] out.

            Anecdote isn't evidence, and your friends in retail don't know what they are talking about.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              'black friday' is supposed to be the biggest 'shopping' day of the year, not 'spending' day.
              from my limited experience in retail (3 years, then i ran away to college), the day after thanksgiving is about the worst, if not THE worst day to work. the customers don't necessarily spend more, but they expect these fabulous deals and pitch a fit if they don't find them, (and often leave, if you can't deliver), and are generally annoying all day long.
              the weekend before Xmas is the day that things aren't on sale, c
              • If you're not spending, you're not shopping. You're just walking around looking at things.

                The red-to-black has always been the theory explaining why its called Black Friday. I don't think I've ever heard anyone not say before. Yes, anectode I know, but when every news channel in every city I've ever been in explains it the same way... well.

                Anyway like I said, if you're not spending, you're not shopping. You're walking around. My wife and I do this alot (not this time of year though); we often walk thro
                • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                  by nuzak ( 959558 )
                  > The red-to-black has always been the theory explaining why its called Black Friday.

                  Possibly the most dubious backformation (i.e. "made up shit") I've ever heard. It's called Black Friday because it's a bad day to be in the trenches in retail.
      • There wasn't a whole lot of stores with a wii on the shelf *at all* on black friday. For Nintendo, every friday is "black friday". - Though I've had a few opportunities to buy another one these past few months - if I were thinking, I would have bought a few to scalp in a parking lot on black friday - that would have worked out great!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      If they're making more than they're selling, why is it so hard to find a console?

      Check your units of measure. They're making 1.4 million a month, but they sold 350K last week.

      Assuming that the two figures are representative, then you have a point. Otherwise, you're comparing apples and oranges (or, more to the point, the author handing you apples and oranges, and either not realizing it or not caring...).

    • by ack154 ( 591432 )
      The 350k was just for the US, just for last week with Black Friday.

      They normally average 500k+ per month in the US. But the 1.8m per month is split between the US, UK/Europe and Japan. So those three together add up to the 1.8m.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy ( 595695 )
      It's a distribution problem. I live in Ottawa Canada. I could go downtown and buy 5 today if I wanted to, but I already have one, and I'm too lazy to sell them on eBay. There's a lot of places they can't be found but there's a lot of places they can easily be found. However, the distribution problem isn't the easiest one to solve, especially when shops want to have them on the shelves. It could work if they were ordered by demand, from a single source, but things don't work that way. They are manufact
  • by minginqunt ( 225413 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:26PM (#21519187) Homepage Journal
    Welcome to last year.

    Trust me, I'll be able to find a Wii come Christmas Morning. It'll be exactly where I put it a year ago.
  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:27PM (#21519211)
    Really, really small. And quite cheap.

    If it becomes too hard to find, just go to a friend's house and take his.

    Leaving the money where the Wii was, is regarded as a nice touch.
  • Bundle packs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RootsLINUX ( 854452 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {xunilstoor}> on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:28PM (#21519235) Homepage
    I have resisted all "Wii bundle" deals that stores try to offer because I just don't like the idea of being forced to buy other things when all I want is a console. But now that the Wii has been out for an entire year and I have still yet to lay my eyes on an Wii unit in retail stores, I have surrendered myself to the thought. Fortunately my mother works at Costco so next shipment of Wiis they get, she will be buying one of the bundles for me (which I believe isn't too bad: wii unit, 2 controllers, 2 games of my choice, $340). Its nice to have someone close working in retail for times like these. :)
    • by Altus ( 1034 )

      Thats pretty reasonable. Your likely to want the extra controller and certainly you will want some games. The packages last year seemed a lot less desirable (maybe because there weren't as many good games out for the Wii)
    • Re:Bundle packs (Score:4, Informative)

      by LoverOfJoy ( 820058 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:35PM (#21519359) Homepage
      I've heard of people buying bundles from walmart online only to return the parts they don't want right back to their local walmart. You might want to try that out.
    • Thats a nice deal. As for me, I kept calling stores for weeks but I eventually got mine just by walking into Best Buy and there were 2 on the shelf. I bought one and I saw the other one on Craig's List that evening. Havn't seen any on shelves since and that was months ago.
    • by Thansal ( 999464 )
      Yup, the Costco Bundles are very nice. I bought a bundle a few months after release (I think it was circuit city): an extra wiimote/nunchuk, Zelda, and Red Steel (Yes, I did want both games).

      honestly, they are not THAT hard to get a hold of. A few tips:
      1) Walk into your local EB/GameStop/bestbuy/whatever and ask when they expect to get the next shipment (day and time), if you don't know just ask when their weekly shipments come in. Be there around noon (generally) and ask if they have received the shipme
  • Hype (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MrHanky ( 141717 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:32PM (#21519285) Homepage Journal
    How is this news? It's advertising, a reminder that you should buy a Wii and buy it now, since it's still readily available and presumably won't be in a couple of weeks. That is, it won't be if the hype works like planned.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      you should buy a Wii and buy it now, since it's still readily available and presumably won't be in a couple of weeks.

      Correct, except for the part about the Wii being "still readily available". The Wii is in short supply now, as it has been for the entire past year.
    • "How is this news? It's advertising, a reminder that you should buy a Wii and buy it now, since it's still readily available and presumably won't be in a couple of weeks."

      Uh, no. It's sold out right now. They actually sold 1 million units Thanksgiving week. They're 'advertising' something you cannot realistically go buy right now.
  • by Pojut ( 1027544 )
    They aren't exactly just collecting dust on shelves, but they can be easily found. Sure, it takes a bit of research (when is what store going to get a shipment in) and getting up early in the morning so as to be in line to get it when the store opens, but they CAN be gotten. It just takes a bit of effort. My ladyfriend and I camped out overnight about 6 months ago to get ours...grabbed two packs of ciggs, put a bunch of futurama episodes on my PSP's 2 gig memory stick, a couple of folding chairs, a littl
  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:35PM (#21519351)
    It's still relatively easy to get a Wii here. They sell out, but not at the furious pace they used to.

    Last year, they sold out before the store opens (because of more people lining up overnight than the store had). Then it changed early in the new year where it sold out in about 20 minutes. During the summer, it easily took a day to sell out, and now, about a week. (Still brisker than a PS3.)

    At least here (Vancouver, BC), if you really wanted one, you can get one if you try. No fancy lining up, just check a bunch of stores during the week. I spot them quite easily - just check all the usual stores over the course of a week. You don't have to check every store daily - just once a week, and you're bound to run into one with one in stock within a week or two. From observations, companies like Best Buy and other big electronic chains typically get big shipments (~30/week or so per store), than game stores like EBGames (maybe 3 a week). Wal-Mart tends to get a few as well. Generalize to other big stores.

    Of course, with Christmas approaching, I expect the sellout time to be around a day again, so if you have an electronics store (Best Buy, whatever) along your commute, it may help to stop by. If you ask nicely, they may even tell you when the shipments normally come in, so you can plan to visit that day, the day before (stuff occasionally arrives early), and the next business day (in case it's late). Heck, most stores post signs nowadays, so you don't have to ask, or offer clues (e.g., bundles) that they're in stock.
  • Yeah... (Score:2, Informative)

    by tarun713 ( 782737 )
    ...does anyone else remember all the news stores about the Wii before it release last year? And how every 3rd comment was someone saying "There's no need to wait in line, there are going to be plenty! I plan to walk into a store the day after release and buy one." ...12 hrs in line vs 1+ year of it being incredibly difficult to come across. I'm glad I waited in line. :D
    • I remember feeling kind of silly waiting in line for a Wii. "There will be lots more" I was thinking... but I got mine on launch and then the demand only increased. My older brother wanted to get one for his family for Christmas, and he spent the next month trying to acquire one, even missing work on several occasions to do it.

      The same people saying the demand for the Wii is imaginary are most likely the same people that called the Wii a fad. Aren't fads supposed to fade out? or am I missing something her

  • by B00yah ( 213676 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:40PM (#21519479) Homepage
    I've helped over 2 dozen people find wiis since launch (i got mine at midnight, so I was good), and I'll tell you all the same thing I've told them:

    Check the weekly ads for Target and Best Buy on their respective websites on Saturday night/Sunday Morning. If there's a Wii in the Best Buy ad, go there immediately (sunday morning), they'll be there (ask if they're not on shelves, they may have not been stocked yet). If it's in the target ad, go to the store and ask the person working in electronics when they usually get their shipments in (day of the week). You should be good to get one if you get there before 10am that day.
    • I believe those tactics would have worked great where I live a month or so ago...but I'm not so sure now that holiday season is starting to pick up.
    • You beat me to it. I've had no less than five opportunities to buy Wiis this year. (I own two now.) Each time that I was able to buy them was either early in the morning on Sunday (Target) or during the week while I was out looking around at lunch (both Target and Best Buy). I told this to a co-worker and he managed to get a Wii at a Gamestop on a Friday. Just a few weeks ago I was at a local Target at around 10:30 AM and they have over a dozen available.

      Also, I had five Wiimotes and two nunchucks b
    • Same strategy worked for me, back in February. Checked the ad Sunday morning, and strolled in 90 minutes after opening. They had 50+ units left, and there were maybe 10 people in line. I was out of there in under half an hour.

      They've been easy to find all year, if you shop smart. Granted, units might be a bit harder to come by this month, as demand spikes again...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) *
      I actually created a script that checked and regexed this Canada Wii online inventory scraper [] every minute (on a cron) and emailed me when it found one (and I set my email to check every minute). Took about a week, but I managed to get one from the Best Buy online store in the ~15 minutes they were in stock.

      Unfortunately the page appears to be broken but if someone would like me to code a replacement I could probably do that for a reasonable fee (I mean, I already have one) and have it email you instead.

  • by dorath ( 939402 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:41PM (#21519495)
    My mom got me a Wii for my birthday, and she has all but come out and said that she wants it back. She threatened to buy her own if I didn't bring mine for Thanksgiving (in retrospect I should have called her bluff). My aunts and uncles went absolutely nuts over Wii Sports Boxing. In 33 years I've never seen them get so worked up over any kind of game, much less heard them yelling and shrieking like they were. So yeah, I'd say that they're going to be hard to find. My mom hates consoles in general, but she'd really like a Wii.
    • by Autumnmist ( 80543 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @02:41PM (#21521545)
      Thanksgiving this year was hysterical for me. I sat there watching my extended family gathering around the Wii like they were in a Nintendo commercial. I got *scolded* for forgetting to bring Wii Sports (had Rayman and Wii Play with me though). Even my grandmother was getting into the game, mumbling things about the players currently at the controls. I have now been charged with bringing home extra controllers from school so that we can have 4 player at Christmas.
  • by sudnshok ( 136477 ) * on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:43PM (#21519531)
    When I decided to by mine, I just set up a script that checked Amazon every minute or two. I know they have sites that do that already, but there are hundreds of people signed up for the email notifications on those sites. I figured if I had my own script I might get a head start on those people - which paid off. I think I had my script running for only 3 days before I got my Wii. I'm sure many other slashdotters did the same.
  • by Gybrwe666 ( 1007849 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @12:49PM (#21519637)
    Amazon is putting them on the website as they get shipments, as are Best Buy and, I've heard, others. I just had a tab open in my browser and refreshed every little bit. One minute it was $425-$600 on Amazon, the next minute it was $249.xx, no sales tax, no shipping. From what I could tell, the units lasted about 30 minutes, and the word hit the Internet on forums and message boards damn fast.

    Of course, it was over $500 on Amazon Resellers this morning.

    Same for DDR and Guitar Hero, which are apparently incredibly rare games for no apparent reason that I can see. One minute DDR was $168, the next it was $69.99. What's amusing is seeing how fast the Amazon resellers react and adjust their prices.

  • Not Indicative (Score:4, Insightful)

    by JamesRose ( 1062530 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @01:01PM (#21519829)
    Look, 1.8million made 1/3 go to US, so 600 000 in the US, 150 000 A week in the US

    350 000 sold last week

    Now, think about that, if every week they sold 350 000, and they only made 150 000, how did they find the extra 200 000.

    Two answers- either they have a stockpile (not likely considering stores have been empty for almsot a year) - OR - they DIDN'T sell 350 000 units in the previous weeks.

    Now, could we in future post articles which aren't based on freak statistics and make out those results are normal.
    • by seebs ( 15766 )
      Actually, it seems quite likely they did stockpile some -- they may have had production ramped up this far as early as August, and they weren't selling that fast in September and October.
    • Re:Not Indicative (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Phisbut ( 761268 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @01:34PM (#21520355)

      Two answers- either they have a stockpile (not likely considering stores have been empty for almsot a year) - OR - they DIDN'T sell 350 000 units in the previous weeks.

      Or maybe, just maybe, Nintendo knows November is a great month in North-America compared to Europe or Japan, and they decided to ship a little more to the US and a little less everywhere else for that month. I think the US is about the only (big) country to massively buy and give gifts in November, most of the world waits till December.

    • Two answers- either they have a stockpile (not likely considering stores have been empty for almsot a year) - OR - they DIDN'T sell 350 000 units in the previous weeks.

      They did. At least, a lot of stores did. We recently bought the last Wii available for sale at the local Gamestop just before they were ordered from on high to hold them back so there'd be a few on sale for Black Friday. They only had maybe two more in the store that they could hold anyway, so maybe "stockpiling" is a little overstated.

  • I bought a Wii at launch and sold it about a month later to my brother-in-law on the cheap because he wanted one. At the time I really don't think I made a mistake, and I still mostly agree with that. Until Mario Galaxy came out, there were absolutely zero games I was interested in. I played through Zelda and put tons of hours into Wii Sports with family and friends, good fun and all, but what has come out since then? Metroid and Mario basically. Maybe Zack and Wiki but I don't really know anything abo
  • How I got one (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath ( 636671 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @01:09PM (#21519977)
    I got one this summer at a FYE store in New England.

    My tactic was pretty simple: Ask all of the stores in my area what day of the week they typically get deliveries on. Then call each store on its standard delivery day (and the day after, if the shipment hadn't been unpacked when I called), asking if they had a Wii. It paid off in several months.

    I was probably also lucky that I wasn't doing this during the holiday season, otherwise the Wiis probably would have been all snapped up before I got there. But still, my approach may be worth a shot.

    P.S. It really is a lot of fun, especially for a casual gamer like me.
  • by ctid ( 449118 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @01:11PM (#21520003) Homepage
    I know of people in the UK who have bought Wiis from Amazon in Germany or in France - there doesn't seem to be any problem with shipping to the UK. It's in stock now (ie 17:08 GMT on 29th November 2007) at []. "Verfügbarkeit: Auf Lager." Means, "Availability: In Stock". Just at the moment it is out of stock at the French Amazon store.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This method is not guaranteed, but it will help a lot. It helps best if you live in a large urban area with multiple stores around.

    1. Wait until midweek. Tuesdays are good, but Wednesday or Thursday also works.
    2. Actually physically visit a Target. Go early after opening. Go to where the Wii should be in the locked glass container.
    3. Look at the label strip where the $249.99 price is. Look for a series of numbers under a barcode. This is Target's internal tracking number for the item. Write this number down. Mak
  • Go to Sweden. I was visiting a major household/electronics retailer the other day and Wiis were gathering dust on the shelves. I very nearly bought one myself, despite not owning a TV and generally preferring PC games anyway. Maybe now I'll go buy one and sell it for profit on eBay...
  • My wife managed to get me one as a present covering Father's Day, our anniversary, and my birthday. This was back in late-May. Now, I play it at least once a week with my four year old son. He loves WiiSports bowling and golf. Ok, he doesn't quite grasp the concept of golf and loves whacking the ball when it is 2 feet away from the hole into the water trap 50 feet away. Still he has fun. When it comes to bowling, though, he's surprisingly good. He has a high score of 121 and learned how to aim the ba
  • by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @01:42PM (#21520515) Homepage
    Ever since the Wii came out, Sony, etc. have always been saying "it's all hype, it will go away in a few months."

    I remember a Slasdot story about 4 months ago that basically said the Wii had peaked, that all the non-gamers that wanted one had bought it already, and it was sitting unused, while the gamers did not want one.

    What crap.

    Sony etc. are still caught in the "better chip/video, at any cost" model. Nintendo got it right, the video is more than good enough at the low end. It will take another revolution in video quality to make the best chips worth it again. For now, better games and better controllers are where it is at.

  • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Thursday November 29, 2007 @03:30PM (#21522393) Homepage
    Is because of Super Mario Galaxy. It's quite possibly the best Nintendo has come up with in ages, and it's selling consoles on the double by itself. In the last four weeks (according to, the Wii has sold 280k, 265k, 435k, 640k units world wide. Add that up for a total of 1620k units in a month. When we know they're producing 1800k units/month, that basicly means there's almost nothing being stockpiled for Christmas. And the console market just explodes by Christmas...

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.