Japan counts down to Wii launch

GameSpot scours the streets of downtown Tokyo to see how gamers are preparing for the trans-Pacific launch of Nintendo's new console.

by

TOKYO--Two weeks after the North American Wii launch, Japan has started its own countdown to the debut of Nintendo's new system. Tomorrow, 400,000 units will go on sale, more than quadruple the number of PlayStation 3s that were available at its November 11 launch. Even with that quantity, stores quickly ran out of preorders last month. With less than 24 hours left until the console's December 2 debut, GameSpot took a late-night stroll on the streets of Tokyo to see how gamers that missed out on reserving a unit were girding themselves for the next generation of Nintendo.

In Shinjuku, the largest shopping area of Tokyo, more than 400 people had already lined up at Bic Camera, the closest store to the Shinjuku subway station, by 11:40 p.m. Most of the Wii seekers were equipped with winter clothing, sleeping bags, food, and game handhelds. Over the course of the chilly evening, the crowd continued to grow, including men, women, and a few homeless persons hired by scalpers intent on reselling Wiis at a profit. When the clock struck midnight, the store began handing out numbered tickets, which ensured holders a console--as long as they stayed in line.

Surprisingly, the Shinjuku Yodobashi Camera store, which had a line of approximately 780 people for the PS3 launch last month, was completely deserted aside from employees unloading Wiis from trucks. As it turns out, there was a line of more than 700 people by 9 p.m., which grew to more than 1,000 in less than an hour. At 10 p.m., the store decided to avoid any chaos and gave away tickets that could be exchanged for a Wii on launch day. This is the first time that the Shinjuku Yodobashi has ever decided not to have a line for a new gaming machine in the past four years--which included the PSP, Nintendo DS, DS Lite, and PS3 launches. In front of the closed store, there was already a "Sold Out" sign (pictured) with a note saying the date of the next scheduled Wii shipment is unknown.

The Shinjuku Sofmap store also didn't have any consumers waiting out in the cold, as the store will only be selling to customers that had preordered last month.

Sakuraya, which was one of the few stores that publicly announced the number of Wii they'll be selling (160 units), isn't going to officially create a line and give out any numbered tickets until the morning of December 2.

In the electronics district of Akihabara, the streets were fairly deserted, as most of the midsized stores were not scheduled to sell any non-preorder units on launch day. Laox Asobit City, which had a line of nearly 250 people at the PS3 launch, also closed preorders last month. Gamers, the closest game store to the train station, will be holding a raffle like many stores did with the PS3.

The Akihabara Yodobashi Camera had a crowd of nearly 1,500 people around 10:30 p.m., 30 minutes after employees began handing out tickets redeemable for a Wii. The crowd eventually dispersed, leaving behind a few stragglers in the parking lot who wanted to get a Wii as soon as the store opens.

GameSpot will be back in the morning to cover the Wii launch in Japan. Stay tuned.

Discussion

111 comments
epormada
epormada

Zelda looks ok and its the cheapest new console = quick sales. Longterm, there gonna need to put out some new IP's to maintain this rate of sale through next year. It will inevitably slow down. North America? Canada? USA? Who cares? Don't be so analytical!

DFTricks
DFTricks

it hasent been lunch in the us first, it has been lunch in the North America first (that for you self absored people) but it defenitly nice to have it first and before Japan for once!

Kravyn81
Kravyn81

Nothing beats national pride :)

mr_squibble
mr_squibble

I'm happy that Japanese folks can finally get a Wii. I don't blame Nintendo for launching in the USA first. Getting a new system and all of its gear and games out before the Thanksgiving shopping weekend is a great strategy to sell more stuff. The Christmas shopping season is not nearly as important to retail in Japan as it is in the USA. The Wii launch dates are all about Nintendo maximizing revenue, and not about honoring one country over another by launching there first.

EikoAtoride
EikoAtoride

Maybe it's due to the winter that lines are closed at all or shorter than usual. I would prefer pre-ordering or waiting than getting a cold or worse...

chrisdojo
chrisdojo

what's with the guy sitting in line with the hospital mask on???

undox
undox

With store still having Wii system to sell in the US, why can't Japan have as many available. Maybe Nintendo should have delayed the Japan launch until they had enough to meet the Japanese demand.

ikari_ryou
ikari_ryou

A friend of mine who's studying here with me went out to the Shibuya Sakuraya at 12 midnight and only had to wait in line until the store opened at 8. From what he told me, he was 20th in line in front of a store that claimed they would be selling 140 units, so he was definitely going to get one. Funny thing is though, he said that he could've shown up at 5 AM instead, and still been at around the 100-mark inline. I guess Japan is big on new systems, but not really big on waiting in line for days.

JLCrogue
JLCrogue

Poor Japanese had to wait longer for their Wii...

Atlanticman
Atlanticman

It's just like the Genesis Sonic. Huh? California's poplulation increased by 5,000

Bass0r
Bass0r

"It's weird. I don't recall Nintendo ever launching a system to the US first before Japan. It's kind of an honor." Nintendo DS.

capthunt
capthunt

Wow... i thought Japan of all places would be first to get them

thekey
thekey

The Wii has WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "THE COMSUMER" HAS SPOKEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (THANKS SONY!)

jaanusd
jaanusd

Just like they say @ Sony: The next generation begins when Wii say it does.

GrimBee
GrimBee

WOW! Nintendo has sold over 1,000,000 wiis now! Imagine the amount of wii's sold on december 8th, and through the holiday! At this exact time, xbox 360 is nearing 8 million sold, the wii is well over 1 million sold, and itsn ot even in europe yet! and the ps3 is slowly moving forward with 300,000 sold ;)

Cloud737
Cloud737

What? No lines? That is surprising!

Reetesh
Reetesh

Now if it would Release in Paris.. People Would go crazy and start Shouting "Wii Wii" :lol:

goodknight888
goodknight888

It's weird. I don't recall Nintendo ever launching a system to the US first before Japan. It's kind of an honor.

thekey
thekey

pencilpusher69 "As a gamer since the days of the Odyssey 2, and Atari VCS, I can honestly say that the Wii is the most incredible gaming experience I've ever had. And watching the reactions of friends, family, and co-workers who try it out is really fun, and eye opening. I truly believe that gaming is about to go "mainstream". And for those who complain about the graphics, if the Wii's graphics are something that hold you back from having fun, then you have to admit that you've wasted all of your time playing games on the PS2, Xbox, or Gamecube. Wasted them, because they weren't shiney enough. The last generation looked great, and most people will be happy to have a moderate step up, with a greater level of interaction. Your hate isn't going to stop a truly amazing idea from spreading like wild-fire." 100% agreed And to just add to that is if the Wii sells more then the PS3 you can expect to see more Wii 3rd party support and less PS3 support. And thats a fact, dispute it if you sony fanboys want to. but the 3rd party developers can easly abandon ship. Remember EA and Sega's great marrage? Remember when the Dreamcast came out, how EA dissed them because it" wasn't profitble enough?" I rest my case.

Doolum
Doolum

Thats the Wii after all...current generation console wrongly identified as next gen

trackmanep233
trackmanep233

3-2-1 person w/ wii gets shot in the face!! oh wait, thats PS3 nevermind

pencilpusher69
pencilpusher69

As a gamer since the days of the Odyssey 2, and Atari VCS, I can honestly say that the Wii is the most incredible gaming experience I've ever had. And watching the reactions of friends, family, and co-workers who try it out is really fun, and eye opening. I truly believe that gaming is about to go "mainstream". And for those who complain about the graphics, if the Wii's graphics are something that hold you back from having fun, then you have to admit that you've wasted all of your time playing games on the PS2, Xbox, or Gamecube. Wasted them, because they weren't shiney enough. The last generation looked great, and most people will be happy to have a moderate step up, with a greater level of interaction. Your hate isn't going to stop a truly amazing idea from spreading like wild-fire.

Anime-Beast
Anime-Beast

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Redsyrup
Redsyrup

denawayne "Wii don't care, just like the Japanese don't care for our products. I support good old U.S. of A. made goods. Now back to my 360." I partialy agree with you even if that microsoft hardware isn't manufactured in the US I know for a fact the software is. M$ employs thousands of US programers and that's good for us.

silverstar1982
silverstar1982

People talking about how the Wii is outdated technology, especially the guy who mentioned about how Japan loves outdated tech? Then why is it that the PS2 did so well, when it was outdated as soon as the Gamecube launched? Or why the highest selling games in America have been Football and GTA? Those games aren't anywhere close to advanced. GTA looks like something you could do on the PS1, if you didn't want all that bloat in the radio stations.

thekey
thekey

YEAH NINTENDO!!!!!! YES!!!!!! PS3 ownage starts now...........

brandontek
brandontek

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

jonajacket
jonajacket

"just shows how japan loves dated consoles with most of their game sales going to systems with mediocre hard ware like the ps2 the ds and so on" Yeah that motion sensing tech is so yesteryear - eyes rolling.....

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

i would think that they would put it in japan before the us

japanesegoth
japanesegoth

ha...they don't even have it yet..silly peoples

Cubb7
Cubb7

YAY NINTENDO!!

eiru
eiru

Huh ?? NOt launched yet?

PhantasmCipherX
PhantasmCipherX

Duh, those are not gas masks. Those are Ninja masks!!

MoldOnHold
MoldOnHold

good, the wii is in much higher demand than anticipated.

ChitoKiryoku
ChitoKiryoku

kyaa the japs have it now too :o just one week left till it'll finally be here in europe!!

Brain_Fart
Brain_Fart

Smart ideas that their doing, tickets instead of a huge line of destruction. I only wish over here in the States they did this. Oh and racerx737, I believe Nintendo wanted to capture the attention of the big American market first as we have alot of untapped consumer potential(women, non-gamers, etc.).

JAREDJR
JAREDJR

I really hope the Wii does well, all around the world. I picked one up on launch day in Canada Nov 19. and I must say it is such a breath of fresh air into the world of gaming. I am not bashing other consoles, or companies because they all have their own respective strenghts, but I think we owe it to Nintendo for decades of entertainment to at least try this new system.

radiocreed
radiocreed

Looks like Nintendo made a good business decision with the current Wii pricing since these units are currently selling. Regardless of prices, the initial launch of a major console always sell out. As time goes by, when manufaturing cost decreases, they can afford decrease Wii prices little by little and still get about the same profit per unit.

NECR0CHILD313
NECR0CHILD313

Go Go nearly-worldwide launch! You Europeans get it less than a week later as well :D

kenesu96
kenesu96

I live in japan I WAS THERE! the last paragraph that talks about yodobashi kamera-ya is where i went and there were somewhere between 1000-1500 people, and we ALL got Wii! so much for the feared "20 per store" like in the USA but i wonder what the total will be as of monday!? 1.3 million?

racerx737
racerx737

seems weird to me that Nintendo, a Japanese based company would release its system in the U.S. 2 weeks before it did in its own native country. Maybe there's a good reason for it but it just seems weird to me.

joeymew
joeymew

denawayne "Wii don't care, just like the Japanese don't care for our products. I support good old U.S. of A. made goods. Now back to my 360." you're an idiot. not all the 360 manufacturers are in the good ol' U.S.of A.