Will the Wii U supply at launch be enough to satisfy everyone?

While sales have bottomed out over the past two years, Nintendo’s Wii has remained a startling success with around 97 million consoles sold since 2006. Nintendo sold 30 more million Wiis than Microsoft sold Xbox 360s since 2005 and around 34 million more than Sony sold PlayStation 3s. Funny thing is, Nintendo could have done better. The Wii was so successful, so popular between 2006 and 2008 that Nintendo had trouble keeping up with demand. It literally couldn’t make them fast enough. With GameStop and other retailers already closing pre-orders for the Nintendo Wii U, it seems Nintendo may experience supply problems all over again.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said in a new interview that Nintendo plans to keep enough Wii U machines on shelves to accommodate most customers. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons from the launch of the DS, the launch of the Wii, and the launch of 3DS,” Fils-Aime told Forbes, “And our supply chain is solid. My job is to work with retailers, work with other business partners to create demand for the product, and have the consumer get excited. And I we’re well on the way to doing that. My expectation is that we will do a phenomenal job helping the consumer understand the benefits of Wii U, and that our retailers will do a wonderful job of merchandising the product and getting it into consumers’ hands. We want to satisfy all of the demand that’s out there. That’s our goal.”

In the twenty-four months following the Wiis release, some speculated that Nintendo was intentionally keeping units off the market to drive up consumer demand. If the Wii U is scarce this fall, it won’t be because Nintendo is keeping retail supply light. Numerous reports over the past six months have indicated that Nintendo has had problems manufacturing the Wii U’s signature controller. In August, it seemed that Wii U’s release would be delayed in Europe due to those manufacturing problems.

One thing’s for sure: Nintendo will be making money on every Wii U sold. While Nintendo refused to confirm for us that the Wii U is profitable directly out of the box, Digital Foundry suggests that the $300 base price for the console will net a tidy sum over manufacturing costs.