On Sunday, Nintendo shipped its next-generation Wii video game console in North America. As with the recent launch of the Sony PlayStation 3, Nintendo sold out its entire stock of Wii consoles immediately. But unlike Sony, Nintendo shipped a large number of its consoles, providing far more gamers the opportunity to upgrade to a next-generation system.
Some gamers eager to snag Nintendo's latest console began camping out Saturday night, but many simply showed up Sunday morning. Few were disappointed: Around the country, most people who arrived at large consumer electronics chains early Sunday morning walked away with Wii consoles and various Wii-compatible games and accessories. Unlike the raucous PlayStation 3 launch--marred by poor console availability and occasional outbreaks of violence around the country--the Wii launch was a sedate affair with no major problems.
According to Nintendo, the company was able to provide "five to ten times" as many consoles in North America as Sony, which shipped about 400,000 PlayStation 3 units last week. Nintendo says it will sell at least four million Wii consoles by the end of the year.
The success of the Wii launch underscores Nintendo's strategy with its new console. Unlike Microsoft's Xbox 360 or Sony's PlayStation 3--both of which offer high-end processors, graphics capabilities, and other components--the Wii is a simpler device with more basic graphics and fun new game-play possibilities. Nintendo's approach will appeal to casual gamers, families with kids, and anyone who prizes game play over raw graphics. The price is also right: The Wii costs just $250 and includes one game, compared with $500 to $600 for the PlayStation 3 and $300 to $400 for the Xbox 360, and neither the PlayStation 3 nor the Xbox 360 includes a game.
I'll be reviewing the Wii soon on the SuperSite for Windows. My initial impressions are extremely positive, however, and my kids--ages five and eight--are absolutely in love with the friendly and intuitive device. If the launch is any indication of the device's eventual success, Nintendo might just have a hit on its hands.