On Sunday, I purchased a Nintendo Wii. It wasn’t for me. My girlfriend, celebrating her thirtieth birthday, wanted the game system as a gift.
Not knowing much about the current state of demand and supply for the game consoles and assuming any frenzy ended with the past holiday season, we went shopping on Saturday. Our first stop was the nearby Toys R Us.
They had none in stock, but there were laser-printed signs all over the store indicating they expected a shipment of Wiis in the next day, in addition to some kind of Pokemon thing. I couldn’t help thinking that this really wasn’t my kind of game.
We stopped into other stores, including Circuit City and Best Buy, but no Nintendos could be found. Best Buy would have them in the next day like Toys R Us, but no one at Circuit City seemed to have any information about their next shipment.
After confirming for the third time that my girlfriend was positive this was what she wanted for her birthday, we decided to head to Toys R Us on Sunday before the store opened.
When we arrived, there was a long line of eager would-be customers waiting at the door. A few people at the head of the line had blankets and chairs. They must have been there for hours, if not overnight. I had no idea demand was still so high for these devices.
As we arrived in line about 30 minutes before the doors opened, a store employee handed us a number (64), which guaranteed us a Wii. By the time the store opened, they were turning people away.
After the line moved inside the store, it still took another half hour before we’d enter the game section of the store and head to the counter to turn in our numbered slip and claim the prize. While in line, the girls behind us (numbers 65 and 66) were on the phone with their friends, talking about whether they could create an eBay account to sell the consoles online to those unable to purchase one in person, theoretically for a nice profit.
These girls were on their way back to Connecticut, saw the line at the Toys R Us, and got sidetracked. While we were on line, one lied to her father on the phone by telling him they had just stopped for coffee and were getting back on the road.
A quick search of eBay reveals that recently auctioned consoles are selling anywhere from $270 to $320 plus shipping. The regular price is $249, so I guess demand is still rather high.
Toys R Us was sold out of the new Zelda game, which I would have liked for myself. The only extra we opted for was an additional controller. Game systems used to come with two controllers, but someone discovered they can make more money by selling them separately.
After getting the system hooked up — we decided not to wait for my girlfriend’s actual birthday next Saturday — we played the bundled sports game. It was interesting, and it took a few times to get used to the motion-sensitive controller. We connected the Wii to the Internet and downloaded a classic NES game, Super Mario Brothers.
That classic game seems to be the winner so far. If you take the Wii’s strange remote-control-looking controller and turn it sideways, it vaguely resembles the original NES controller, and that’s how it is used in the game.
We were discovering “warp zones” I forgot existed, and my girlfriend was able to do that 100-free-lives trick with the turtle guy on the blocks. You know what I’m talking about.
Updated May 26, 2009 and originally published April 24, 2007. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.