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Reggie Assures Wii's Are Coming

reggie.jpgNintendo's President Reggie Fils-Aime held a private group interview to discuss the Nintendo DS and Wii. As is normal when dealing with Reggie, he was extremely energetic and upbeat about how the Wii and Nintendo DS are performing. During the call, he mentioned that for the month of November, all 980,000 Wii's that were sent to North America, were sold out. This has exhausted the entire supply of Wii consoles distributed in North America.

When Wii first went on sale about a year ago, Nintendo was producing 1.0 million units a month globally. As the demand increased after the launch in 2006, Nintendo has increased the production of Wii consoles globally two times in 2007. They are now manufacturing 1.8 million units a month. Even with the increase in units produced a month, the demand continues to increase. To help remedy the demand, Nintendo of America is starting a raincheck program exclusive with GameStop to allow consumers to come in before Christmas, purchase an out of stock raincheck for Nintendo Wii that will be redeemed in January 2008. The raincheck requires that the purchaser pay the full $249.99, plus taxes, and then they will have to pick up their console no later than January 28, 2008. The GameStop raincheck program is set to begin on Friday, December 21, 2007.

Reggie moved the conversation from Wii to Nintendo DS. For the DS, the sales results were just as spectacular as the Wii. In fact, Nintendo DS had its best month ever in North America. Over one million consoles were sold in November. Even with these high sales, there are no reports of shortages for Nintendo DS in 2007. This is exactly the opposite of what happened in 2006--with Nintendo DS being sold out all throughout the 2006 Holiday Season. If shortages due occur, Reggie expects it only to happen at a handful of locations and just before Christmas.

The call moved to a Question and Answer session that was supposed to remain on topic of Wii shortages and sales figures. However, the conversation shifted to a variety of topics. Of the more interesting answers given, Reggie confirmed that the Wii sold over six million pieces of software in the month of November alone. He stated this gave the Wii roughly a 6:1 software to console tie ratio. The big concern at retail and in the press is the relatively low tie ratio for the console. Reggie claims that the attach rate is, life to date, 3.4 pieces of software per console. While this doesn't come anywhere near what Microsoft has with the Xbox 360, the tie ratio would appear higher than previously had been speculated on by the press.

Another call asked about the average age of the Wii owner. Reggie was very proud that the average age is 29. This is a number that is much closer to what the PC market has. Reggie feels that with the casual games being created on the Wii and the broad availability of casual titles on the PC, the Wii will perform much differently than any console before it. While this strategy still remains vastly different than what Sony and Microsoft are doing, we will have to wait and see how this works out for the Wii in the future.

Speaking about the NPD numbers, it was asked if Reggie was disappointed in the low number of sales Super Mario Galaxy had achieved. The question also hinted at Nintendo ceasing to make more "hardcore" titles and focus on causal games only. While the issue on ceasing more hardcore titles was danced around, Reggie did say he was not disappointed with how Mario was performing as "one of the highest rated games ever."

For those of you wanting more features in the Virtual Console, Reggie squashed any hopes that Nintendo will add any online play or other functionality to VC titles. He said with the exception of the recently released Pokemon Snap, all titles will be as they were originally released. However, he did hint that a Voice Over IP device would be coming to the market at some point. No other details were given on when.

A year and a half ago, who would have ever thought the Wii would be performing like this in the market? Although the technology inside the Wii is not anywhere near the same league as the other two consoles, Wii continues to bring Nintendo back to a prominent player in the industry. While it remains to be seen what the long-term success of the Wii will be, the future is looking bright... if they can get the consoles into the hands of eager consumers before they spend their dollars elsewhere.

By Kaleb Rutherford - 12/14/07

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