Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Overwhelming respond toward WII launch in Japan

Japanese Wii are in short supply immediately following launch

After nearly two weeks after the North American launch, the Nintendo Wii is finally available in its home country of Japan. Of course, we use the term “available” rather loosely, as trying to find a Wii for sale in the Land of the Rising Sun borders on the side of impossible. What happened a couple weeks ago here is happening over there.

If Nintendo’s claims are to be believed, 400,000 Wii consoles were available for launch, and all of which have found lovely Japanese homes. This places the Japanese Wii population at four times greater than that of the PlayStation 3.

Even with Nintendo’s boasts of plenty supply in comparison to its competitor, gamers still lined up the night before launch in hopes of taking home a console. More than 3,000 people stood outside of Bic Camera in Tokyo, according to shop spokeswoman Naoko Ito. 1,000 of the people there had preordered, with the other 2,000 holding tickets representing the store’s remaining stock. Most gamers who got in line before 5:40 a.m. took home a Wii.

A photo blog on Kotaku gives a look at the night’s experience at Yodabashi Camera in Umeda, Osaka. The store called into use its parking garage to contain its customers until tickets were handed out and patrons could leave the line for a short while. The waiting game continued upon return, when finally it all paid off and a Japanese Wii is secured after navigating through a labyrinth of electronics.

Both Yodabashi and Bic Camera had crowd control staff on duty using mega phones to keep those in line in order. The Bic Camera had also set rules to curb the rampant reselling of the console as experienced with the PS3 by posting a statement on the company website saying that Wiis will not be sold to anyone with the intention of reselling it. In practical terms, however, it was just a polite suggestion, as store representative Ryoko Nakada admits to The Japan Times: “… we can't tell the difference between customers who are purchasing for resale and those who aren't.”

While some of those in the queue may have had black market sales in mind, the majority of those who stood in line for a Wii wanted it to play, not to sell.

“My friends and family called me a fool. They don't see a point of rushing to a store on the launch day when you can get it much easier a while later,” said Junpei Ito, a 24-year-old company employee. “But joining the line like this is part of fun.”

In plain fanatic fashion, student Kentaro Watanabe, who was in line all night, was dressed up in a Wii Remote controller costume. “I made this (costume) by myself yesterday,” he said to the BBC. “This is homage to Nintendo.”

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