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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Nintendo warns of Wii shortages

Man playing a Wii game
The physical element of Wii gaming has helped make it popular
A chronic shortage of Nintendo's popular Wii console could mean disappointment for those putting it at the top of their Christmas list.

The BBC has learned that high street retailers are struggling to keep up with demand for the console, which has been in short supply for months.

Websites such as have been set up to help shoppers find out when stock becomes available.

Nintendo said it was "doing everything possible" to keep up with demand.

Its push to fill the shelves in time for Christmas will see it ship an extra 3.5 million consoles globally. It is not known how many extra consoles will make it to UK shelves.

In April Nintendo estimated a yearly shipment of 14m units, but that has now been raised to 17.5m.

Despite this, the gaming giant admitted that not everyone who wants one is guaranteed a Wii this Christmas.

The video games market is a fiercely competitive one and it is not in our interest to withhold stock from anyone
Nintendo spokesman

"The demand for Wii hardware globally has been unprecedented and higher than Nintendo could ever have anticipated," said a spokeswoman.

"Nintendo is now in a position in which seasonality demand trends are being broken, therefore the demand for Wii hardware is constant throughout the whole year globally. Due to this phenomenon it is possible that the demand for Wii hardware may outstrip supply," she said.

Slow trickle

From the high street, the message is very similar.

"Although we're receiving regular deliveries from Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft and getting the products onto the shelves as fast as we can - it's possible that demand will outstrip supplies on some products, for example the Nintendo Wii, which has been hugely popular all through the year," read a statement from high street gaming specialist Game.

"We're posting daily updates on our website at to give customers the latest news on availability, and will continue to do everything possible to help our customers find the consoles they want."

Woolworths said that it was receiving a "slow trickle of stock every week" and also advised customers to keep an eye on their website.

"The Nintendo Wii consoles have proved extremely popular with our customers and have been flying off the shelves whenever we get new stock in," said a spokeswoman.

Website meltdown

As a result of the huge demand, prices are beginning to be hiked, especially among smaller retailers with larger retailers bundling the console with several games.

"It is very hard to buy a Wii console now without two or three games bundled in with it, which can push the price up to around the £300 mark," said Darren McKillop, the man behind

Mr McKillop said that when stock did come in retailers were struggling to cope with the flood of traffic on their websites.

"In some cases their ordering systems let them down and they end up taking orders for stock they don't have and yesterday a major online retailer announced they had the Wii in stock and their website suffered a virtual meltdown as half the country tried to buy a Wii from them," he said. had seen a five-fold increase in traffic since the last Wii shortages at the beginning of the year, said Mr McKillop.

He predicted the stock shortages would last well into the new year.

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