Confusion, shortages hobble US Wii Fit kickoff

Despite official launch date of May 19, retailers won't have game until May 21--if they get it at all this week.

At the 2008 Game Developers Conference in February, Nintendo announced that Wii Fit would launch on May 19. The Japanese game giant's proclamation led many gamers, technophiles, and health enthusiasts to mark their calendars under the assumption they could get their hands on the $90 balance-board based, exercise-centric title on the third Monday of the month.

One of the few people who bought a Wii Fit in NYC today.

However, confusion began to erupt when Nintendo's nationwide advertising campaign for Wii Fit began touting the game as going on sale on Wednesday, May 21. When queried by GameSpot last week, a representative for Nintendo of America insisted the game would go on sale on May 19. "It may take a few days for shipments to reach every part of the country and the ads you saw may have considered that," said the rep.

Today, Nintendo is holding a Wii Fit launch event in New York City, where it sold the game to a select few. The rest of the country won't be as fortunate. Nintendo made a last-minute announcement today that the May 19 date only applies to only one location--the Nintendo World Store in New York City. According to a "Nintendo World ambassador" manning the phones at the store, the game sold out there in under an hour this morning. However, subsequent reports received by GameSpot say the game was in stock for several hours. A call made to the Nintendo World Store at 3pm EDT/12pm PDT confirmed there were no more units for sale.

Calls to more than a dozen other retailers throughout the country--including ones just blocks away from the Nintendo World Store--produced an uniform result. "The game doesn't come out until Wednesday," was the oft-repeated reply from more than 20 clerks and managers at GameStop, Best Buy, and Target locations on both coasts and in the Midwest. One GameStop employee in San Francisco seemed particularly glum, saying, "We won't even know if we are getting any quantity until Wednesday."

GameSpot queried Nintendo reps about the confusion surrounding the Wii Fit launch, as well as the prospect of shortages--shortages which apparently have led to online retailers such as Amazon ceasing to offer preorders. As of press time, no reply had been received.

For more on Wii Fit, which is already on sale in Europe, Australasia, and Japan--where it has sold 1 million units--check out GameSpot's full review. To learn more about the actual health effects of the game, check out GameSpot editors' collective Wii Fit blog, which will launch later this week.

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