Nintendo’s Wii made such a powerful connection with people when it came out in 2006 that Nintendo wasn’t able to satisfy demand for years. It wasn’t until the end of 2008, a full year before Wii sales peaked, that Nintendo was able to manufacture enough devices to properly meet demand. That’s an intimidating legacy for the Wii U to live up to, especially for a machine that’s so confused the public to date.
There is promise for Nintendo’s Wii U: Pre-orders for the device have sold out at GameStop.
Polygon reported on Saturday that myriad GameStop stores around the US had already sold through their expected allocations for the Wii U’s Nov. 18 release. Reservations for the Wii U Deluxe Set, the $350 model that comes packed in with a copy of NintendoLand as well as free access to Nintendo Network Premium, were half-filled within hours of the console’s price announcement on Thursday. By the end of Friday, all Deluxe sets were sold out including online.
The Wii U Basic Set, the $300 edition of the console that comes with just the machine, controller, and 8GB of flash memory, is still available for pre-order at GameStop’s website as well as in many stores.
Nintendo is discovering what Microsoft proved with the Xbox 360 in 2005: When you offer multiple models of a console, people will ignore the cheaper model unless it offers real value. The Xbox 360 Arcade, a hard drive-less version of the machine sold at launch, was roundly ignored by consumers until it was re-released in 2010 as a $200 package with 4GB of internal flash memory.
The Xbox 360 is the device responsible for GameStop and other retailers’ policy of limiting the number of pre-orders taken for new consoles. In 2005, far more Xbox 360 pre-orders were sold than systems that were actually available on day one. As a result, devices had to be trickled out to customers over the course of months.
As of right now, there are still other outlets taking pre-orders for Wii U Deluxe. Walmart is taking preorders online but require you purchase it as part of a $450 bundle along with New Super Mario Bros. U. Others like Best Buy have sold through this initial round of pre-orders. Other outlets however haven’t started accepting pre-orders at all. Amazon.com’s product pages for Wii U don’t allow you to pre-order yet and Toys R Us simple has a placeholder page that says pre-orders will be accepted soon.
Wii U’s success is far from guaranteed. There’s interest, yes, but nothing resembling the furor of Wii’s 2006 release. At least, not yet.