Wiipackage.jpgAfter a successful sellout of PlayStation 3 units earlier this week, GameStop decided to try their luck at Wii pre-orders. Although Nintendo has promised a million units for the US launch, most GameStop stores were only allowing a small number of units to be pre-ordered on Friday, October 13. The number is even smaller than what some GameStop and EB Games stores had for the PlayStation 3 pre-order. So with a lawn chair, blanket, my trusty MacBook, and DS Lite, I headed down to one of my local GameStop stores to try and make sure I got in on the Nintendo Wii pre-order craze.

Call it insanity or just eagerness to get my hands on a Wii, I assigned myself an early start to Friday the 13th. Making sure to not step in front of any black cats or walk under any ladders, I worked on a few hours of sleep and arrived at GameStop right around 5:35 AM. I did this for a variety of reasons. First off, the GameStop store supposedly had a “limited number” of systems. However, this time they were a bit more hesitant to give me an exact figure and we had to play “say Yes if I say the right number of systems you are pre-ordering.” I also learned that like the PlayStation 3 pre-order, the store was allowed to set aside four consoles for employees of the store. This particular store has a staff eager to play Wii. But none of them are really very positive about PlayStation 3. Therefore, all four employee pre-orders were taken.

So what would possess someone to stand in line for a Wii only for a “chance to pre-order” the console and not actually own it? From what I have been told by the store, while GameStop won’t officially guarantee any PlayStation 3 or Wii consoles for their respective launches, the reason why they are doing such a limited pre-order is because they want to make sure that these consoles are actually there on launch day. So these systems are “unofficially guaranteed.” Of course, if GameStop doesn’t fully deliver on every PS3 and Wii pre-order, I am going to guess there will be a riot in stores all across the US.

Outside of US, Canada is getting both Wii and PlayStation 3 pre-orders on Monday, October 16, 2006, in very limited quantities. I have nothing against Canadians and know several… However, the game industry usually releases their consoles at higher prices with fewer units in the region. Basically Canada is treated only slightly better than Europe. So expect to see less than 100,000 PlayStation 3 units in Canada and the good Lord Himself only knows how many Wii consoles Nintendo will deliver.

In all this talk of pre-orders, Mexico has been left out entirely. I guess Sony and Nintendo will just open a truck on launch day and sell from it to the 100 or so gamers who can afford the cost of next-generation gaming.

Back at GameStop, the second person did not arrive in line until 6:41 AM. He came alone and with breakfast. This caused me to think about grabbing some warm coffee and a hot breakfast to eat in line. While I was contemplating leaving and coming back, another guy showed up right after 7 AM. It was decided that it would be okay if two of us left to get breakfast and come back. We did this and nobody else showed up until after 7:30. This time a female got in line. At 8 AM, there were 8 people in line and by the time the Manager and Assistant Manager showed up at 9 AM, we were told that they would only take one more Wii pre-order.

Only 9 pre-orders??? This store got more PlayStation 3 units to pre-order but corporate was only giving them 9 for the Wii launch… at least for now. The manager spoke about how there must be a second wave of pre-orders in the coming weeks for the Wii. But the PlayStation 3 pre-order campaign should be “officially over” for 2006.

We were not allowed to enter the store until after 10 AM due to a corporate mandate to not begin pre-selling consoles until after 10. Supposedly several managers were fired for pre-selling PlayStation 3 consoles three minutes early this week. GameStop Corporate is harsh and I have nothing good to say about them right now.

The line went fairly quickly and all 9 were out of the store and on their way by 10:30. While other stores reported bundles being offered, no store in the Dallas/Ft Worth area offered this. The line was a great experience and it was awesome to get some Mario Kart DS action going in the frigid morning air while waiting to pre-order the Wii. I just hope that this is the last pre-order line I wait in for a long time.

Nintendo Wii consoles were all pre-ordered all across the US by 11 AM. And for all the talk about how many units are going to be available at the Nintendo launch, people are sure excited about this system. This pre-order event generated much more buzz than the PS3. Maybe high-powered consoles, pretty graphics, and big price tags won’t be able to stop Nintendo’s mighty new console after all. We will see how things go once both platforms launch next month.

By Kaleb Rutherford – 10/13/06

Screenshots for Wii Waiters Pre-Order