When a big company shares its periodic earnings data with the general public it’s rare to see outright lies, but any given corporation is going to present its numbers in the most flattering light possible. Thus, it’s no surprise that when Nintendo revealed its second quarter financial results yesterday the entire collection of data was seemingly groomed toward setting the stage for the arrival of the Wii U. Sure, Nintendo may have been forced to cut its expected earnings for the current fiscal year by a whopping 70 percent, but that’s merely because the company is investing so much money into building enough Wii U consoles that everyone who wants one will have a chance to get one when it hits retail on November 18.
Contributing to Nintendo’s ability to downplay its losses in the face of an upcoming system launch is GameStop’s Wii U pre-order system. We detailed this scheme toward the latter-half of September, following GameStop’s announcement that it had sold through all of its traditional Wii U pre-orders. Now, instead of merely turning customers away, GameStop is offering members of its PowerUp Rewards program the opportunity to leave their name and contact details with a local store, which will then phone the prospective buyer when his or her Wii U is actually in stock. Effectively this is the same pre-order system GameStop uses for any item, save for the fact that prospective buyers are not asked to put any money down.
Though we initially expressed doubt at GameStop’s “exclusive opportunity to join the wait list for this must-have item,” it seems to have attracted quite a few prospective Wii U owners. According to Nintendo’s official financial report, the GameStop Wii U pre-order scheme has convinced more than 250,000 people to leave their pertinent details with GameStop in exchange for a Wii U at some nebulous point in the future. “To give a nice anecdote which illustrates how well pre-orders are doing at the moment, GameStop, which is the largest specialty retailer of video games in the U.S., created a “waiting list” after all of their allocated pre-orders had been sold out, and as of last week, more than 250,000 consumers had put their name and contact details on the waiting list for a Wii U system,” Nintendo’s report states. Further, the company claims that the Wii U Deluxe Set (which features a $350 price tag and includes a Wii U console, a copy of Nintendo Land, a 32GB memory card, and an exclusive black color scheme) is out performing the Wii U Basic Set (which only includes the white Wii U console, an 8GB memory card and the cables necessary to connect the machine to your television) in terms of pre-orders, though Nintendo offers no specific figures on how either are performing.
While this “250,000 pre-orders” number is a nice highlight for the company, we’re having trouble drumming up much excitement based purely on this bullet point. Does that 250,000 person figure include GameStop’s standard Wii U pre-orders? Given how relatively informal GameStop’s new pre-order process is — not having to put money down for a pre-order is a novel concept for the retailer — how difficult would it be to fudge these numbers? And of course, even if all these figures are accurate, it does nothing to guarantee that Nintendo will be able to build enough Wii U consoles to cover the massive hordes of people that apparently want one.
Cynicism aside, the point here is that GameStop’s Wii U pre-order scheme has apparently been quite successful, both for the store and for Nintendo. Now let’s all keep our fingers crossed that this gaming machine won’t see the same launch shortages as the original Wii.