Watch Out, Here Come the Wii U Vultures (Is Anyone Not Sold Out of the Wii U?)

It looks like the Wii U may be sold out, which means it's time to put on black and go into mourning. Gnash your teeth. Wail. Shrug if you couldn't care less. Or pay embarrassing amounts of money to have one, day one.

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Nintendo

It looks like the Wii U may be sold out, my friends, which means it’s time to put on black and go into mourning. Gnash your teeth. Wail. Shrug if you couldn’t care less. Or, of course, reach deep into your pockets and pull out wads of cash to pay that sordid segment of the secondary market more than happy to guarantee you a system on launch day for roughly 1000% markup.

I just checked GameStop — both the $300 Basic and $350 Deluxe models are sold out, and as I understand it, have been since late September, just after preorders began. Target lists both models on its website but not a button to preorder them. Kmart’s listing is basically the same as Target’s. And Toys ‘R’ Us says the Wii U will be available at launch, but to “check back soon to pre-order.”

Walmart‘s online listing for the 32 GB model (I couldn’t find the 8 GB version) won’t let you order online, showing “In stores only” and allowing you to check store availability. I ran a quick search around Michigan, near Ann Arbor (where I live) including Detroit, and not a single store lists the system as “carried.” It’s the same story in Los Angeles, New York and Miami. At this point, I’m assuming your only chance of buying a Wii U from Walmart is going to involve waiting in line on launch day, Nov. 18.

Best Buy lists the Wii U as “sold out online.” Fry’s isn’t carrying the Wii U (yet, anyway — it just lists a handful of games). Neither Micro Center nor H.H. Gregg are carrying anything for the Wii U at this point, so they may or may not be launch day options. Sears is carrying the Wii U, but doesn’t appear to be pre-selling it (the company’s website says it’ll be available in stores at launch).

It’s the same story at Amazon — the system’s sold out, except here you’ll start to see the third-party price-gougers doing their thing. Right now, you can buy a “new” Wii U through Amazon starting at $490 (and climbing — one seller’s offering the system for an unhinged $1 million), a “collectible” version starting at $698 (except there is no collectible version — doesn’t Amazon have a way to weed out false advertising?) and someone with the nerve to claim they have a used model to sell (“Used only a couple of times. Comes with original box and paperwork. Also comes with Mario Bros. U”) for just under $800.

Hop over to eBay and it’s as you’d expect, with bidding wars in the $300 to $500 range, to ambitious listings asking $3,000 “or best offer.”

I scouted for Wii U sales trackers and didn’t find much. There’s NowInStock.net, which lists the Wii U as “out of stock” everywhere, save eBay. Another tracker, zooLert, currently reports the same. I’m seeing a few other amateur trackers out there, but they haven’t been updated in months.

In short, if you’re just tuning in, thinking it’d be fun to have a two-screen game system (and a new Mario game) on tap for the big family get-together next week (Thanksgiving — I know, it snuck up on me, too), it’s sadly too late to preorder. Which means your best bet come Saturday midnight or whenever your local retailer opens to sell the thing, is going to be standing in line.

Or is it? Is the Wii U really that popular already, or is the problem on Nintendo’s end with shipment allocation? According to a report on NASDAQ.com, Nintendo could well outperform the Wii in unit sales by the close of the year — 3.5 million units sold, say analysts, compared to the original Wii’s 3.1 million back in 2006.

But in the same piece, employees for GameStop indicate that some stores may not hold midnight launches because they haven’t been allocated enough units (an unconfirmed report citing a GameStop store manager suggests the reason may be security concerns, though that didn’t stop the company from midnight-launching the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii).

As usual, it’s unclear what the problem is, but Nintendo seems upbeat it can keep the systems rolling.

According to Nintendo of America’s VP of marketing, Scott Moffitt (speaking to Venturebeat), Nintendo intends for product “to be available on day one in stores throughout the country.” It’s not clear who’s who in that lineup, but it’s safe to assume anyone who didn’t opt to sell through their allocation in preorders should have a few, and Moffitt specifically names GameStop as having “not sold all of their day one allocation.”

Moreover, says Moffit, Nintendo is doubling down on claims that it’ll have “more Wii U units on store shelves in week one than we did for Wii in 2006″ and that it’ll “also have replenishment much more frequently during the holiday than we did for Wii.”

And according to Tiffany Cho, a manager with Nintendo of America who confirmed the following to me Tuesday night, Nintendo is “doing everything [it] can to get as many systems into the hands of shoppers as possible during the holiday season.

“We are providing retailers with regular shipments of Wii U through the holidays and into 2013,” added Cho. “As Mr. Iwata announced, we expect to ship 5.5 million Wii U systems worldwide by the end of March.”

16 comments
SyxxSense
SyxxSense

I admit that I have made money in the past via eBay when a hot item was hard to find. However, the Wii U is available at nearly every Target store in the metro and surrounding areas of my city. To say that this thing can't be found in stores is hilarious. I think people forget that the internet is their friend when trying to check available stock at certain big box stores.

 I was at a GameStop yesterday and the sales associate kept telling customers that the only way they'd get one by Christmas was to get on a waiting list. However, at the Target in the exact same plaza, you could pick up a white or black Wii U.

popcrnchicken
popcrnchicken

Gamestop is BS. They told me if I don't have a pre-order im out of luck!! They must be saving them for the employees to buy and sell off

TrackAToy
TrackAToy

TrackAToy.com also tracks the stock status of the Nintendo Wii U from all the major online retailers.  Give them a try this holiday season.

KevinLogan
KevinLogan

Target sells pre order cards.  And my local target still has several of both models available.  That being said I know that between the 2 walmarts in my area they only received 13 consoles for pre-order.

mitchells
mitchells

@KevinLogan same thing here. my walmart, the store manager said they had 38 coming in for launch (expected). 12 were pre-orders so 26 available for walk-ins. That line will be longer than 26 that's for sure....

syndicatespam
syndicatespam like.author.displayName 1 Like

Gamestop sold out of pre-orders so quickly they they began making a list of everyone that wanted pre-ordered but couldn't. If you are on the list you will be called/texted/emailed when a post launch Wii Us is available and they will reserve it for you. BUT apparently they ran out of both. I got on the list but when my brother tried they told him they had already reserved all pre and post launch Wii Us.

Walmart also sold out of pre-orders and started a layaway program to purchase a launch day Wii U before hand and place it on layaway. My step dad reserved one and was told by a manager it was avoid a launch day fiasco. They have currently reserved all Wii U pre-orders and all Wii U deluxe post-launch systems.

Other stores are reporting NOT having a launch day due to being sold out of both pre and post launch systems.

Nintendo has states they did not want to have another shortage like they had with the Wii, so they shipped a greater number Wii U's then they did during the Wii launch and there is still a shortage.

mitchells
mitchells

@syndicatespam I heard one store was taking a wait list for the preorder list. Like you could be on the preorder after the regular preorder people got theirs. I've heard both that stores are having systems reserved for launch day vs all of them just reserved for preorder people. but I've also heard all 100% reserved for preorders. 

OrangeLada
OrangeLada

"roughly 1000% markup"????    

I think your math is a little off, Matt.  100% markup perhaps.  I haven't seen any systems offered for $3,500 or anywhere close to that 1,000% markup.  

mattpeckham
mattpeckham moderator

@OrangeLada Well, there's the guy selling one for $1,000,000 on Amazon, but yeah, I was obviously tongue-in-cheeking that part.

therantguy
therantguy

See every console release ever...they do it this way because lines of people on the news make for good tv and dirt cheap (read: free) advertising and make the system a "must have" that prompts people to run around trying to score one...and like every release in history...in February you will be able to walk into a store and pick one up without trouble...then six months later the price discounting will start and in two years it will be selling for $149...and yet every new system release brings the exact same series of articles that wonder if it's a production issue.

Ugslick
Ugslick

At a walmart in my area (Kanata Centrum, in Ottawa Canada) still had both the black and white Wii U kits last thursday when i went around. Anyone planning on booking the next flight over? Well maybe i should go again to confirm they still have units.

KitsuneHazard
KitsuneHazard like.author.displayName 1 Like

The WiiU at game stop was sold out less than 48 hours after it was available and most other places were pretty much done within a week tops, most being out within 3-4 days.

Little slow, eh?

Korgoth
Korgoth

Perhaps after the PS3 and Wii launches in 2006, retailers are "gun shy," pun intended.  Violence erupting around console launches was something I never would have dreamed of prior to the PS3 and Wii launches, yet both sparked incidents.  Perhaps that particular manager knows his clients enough to not risk the danger?