Nintendo Announces Wii Lineup, Supply Shortages

Nintendo is pulling out all the stops for the launch of its next-generation video console. Nintendo will make about 4 million Wii systems available globally during the next six weeks, beginning with the Nov. 19 launch in the Americas.

The company expects supply will be outpaced by demand, based on retailer orders and consumer requests. Nintendo said it is maximizing all its resources for a rapid replenishment program designed to consistently pump Wii consoles into the supply pipeline and keep retailers’ shelves as filled as possible.

“Wii is for both experienced and uninitiated gamers, and it will be available for the masses,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. “Because of demand, we are urging shoppers not to get complacent. The level of demand we are seeing goes beyond the ordinary.”

Pricing Issues

Fils-Aime is not merely hyping the new product. The issue for both Sony and Nintendo through the holiday season and over the course of the next 12 months is to ramp up production, according to Yankee Group Analyst Mike Goodman. Sony is having issues supplying Blu-ray diodes to manufacture its PlayStation 3. Nintendo, meanwhile, is seeing a huge demand for Wii, in part, because of its low price.

“Hard core gamers will plunk down $500 or $600 to get a new Sony PS3. Once you get past the early adopter phase and start heading into the mass market, then price starts to become more of an issue,” Goodman told TechNewsWorld.

“The ability to continue to fill the pipeline with games and the attractiveness of those games is going to become the critical factor,” he added. “Once you get beyond that early adopter, it’s more about the title than the brand.”

Title Issues

Part of the demand for Wii may be because of the price. At US$250, Wii is by far the least expensive of the next-generation video game consoles on the market. Nintendo, however, has announced that its console will launch with a five-sport selection of games called Wii Sports.

Other games available on launch day include “The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess” and “Excite Truck.” A total of 62 new and classic games will be available for Wii during the five weeks after launch. Nintendo will offer 32 new titles to play by year’s end, along with 30 classic games from older consoles.

Sony unveiled 22 titles for the Nov. 17 introduction of the PS3 with diversity in mind. The electronics giant is preparing war games, racing games, sports games and more in what Sony Computer Entertainment President and CEO Kaz Hirai called “the most robust game lineup” of any new console system.

Long-Term Plays

New titles aside, Nintendo is betting on its price advantage. However, the price advantage is not as dramatic this year because, as Goodman noted, early adopters are willing to pay the going rate for the latest technology. Many have been salivating over the next-generation PS3 for months.

“Nintendo and Sony are supply constrained. Sony is only going to have two million units this holiday season and Nintendo is going to have four million units. If both of them had seven or eight million units they could sell out, but they don’t,” Goodman said. “So price is not that big of an issue this year and that’s very important because Microsoft is in an extremely strong position to cut its price next year and it will.”

That could make it tougher for both Sony and Nintendo to compete against the Xbox 360 in the years ahead.

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