For Brits who didn't manage to preorder a Wii, Nintendo's next-gen console, there is still hope--many stores have a percentage of their stock put aside for those willing to wait in line. However, the numbers of consoles available are rumoured to be low, meaning that many will likely go home empty-handed.
The Wii is to be released in Europe tomorrow, December 8, and some stores will be open to sell the console at the stroke of midnight. Some fans, eager for units, have been camping out on Oxford Street in London's premier shopping area since December 5.
This will be the first European console launch in over a year, since the Xbox 360 was released, and with Sony's PlayStation 3 delayed until March, the Wii is bound to be on many a shopper's Christmas list.
In an e-mail to customers who had preordered the Wii, Woolworths commented, "Nintendo has only shipped part of its promised stock for Nintendo Wii to all retailers within the UK." The message went on to reassure people that they would, however, receive deliveries of their preordered console before Christmas.
Nintendo has promised a "steady stream" of Wii replenishment in the run-up to Christmas, with plans to ship 4 million consoles worldwide, but also advised people to preorder to avoid disappointment. Preorders on Amazon UK closed after just 10 minutes, and orders for other retailers also sold out fast.
The official Nintendo launch event will take place at the HMV branch at 150 Oxford Street, London, and starts at 11 p.m. tonight. Those waiting for a Wii there will have the chance to play Wii Sports against celebrities including ex-Arsenal and England footballer Ian Wright, model and presenter Nell McAndrew, ex-Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, and boxer Ricky Hatton. Nintendo UK general manager David Yarnton will also be present.
There will one other event in London, at Game's Oxford Street branch. It will kick off at around 10 p.m. Music, entertainment, competitions, and Wii pods to play on are planned. At midnight, there will be a countdown. Company reps told GameSpot that there will be extra consoles allocated for those waiting in line, as well as enough consoles to fulfill all preorders.
Game's Dawson Street, Dublin, branch will also be open this evening.
Gamestation will be holding events at its Birmingham New Street and Edinburgh branches this evening--parties kick off at 10 p.m. with DJs spinning tracks, models serving food, and a "guest appearance" from Mario.
More than 200 other Gamestation locations across the country will be open at midnight for customers to buy the console. The company advises consumers to call individual stores for details. Some branches will have extra stock as well as those allocated for preorders.
Woolworths, Currys, Toys "R" Us, and PC World have all confirmed that their stores won't be opening at midnight. A spokesperson for Currys said, "We have no specific plans for extra promotion of the launch as there's so much excitement around the Wii already." Virgin has cancelled an event that it had planned for its Oxford Street branch.
The weather in London, which could dampen spirits considerably, can only be described as inclement, with heavy rain and strong winds. In Kensal Rise in North West London this morning, six people were hurt after a tornado ripped off rooftops, smashed windows, and ripped trees out of the ground. The forecast for the evening, according to the Met Office, is "severe gales." Severe weather warnings have been issued.