Nintendo refutes Gamestop, states Wii shortages are unintentional

Ludwig Kietzmann
L. Kietzmann|03.29.07

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Nintendo refutes Gamestop, states Wii shortages are unintentional
Well, obviously. George Harrison, Nintendo's senior VP of marketing and corporate communications, has rubbished a claim that Nintendo is intentionally constricting Wii supplies in order to bolster their next fiscal year, beginning April 1. This comes in response to Gamestop's chief operating officer, Dan DeMatteo, who opined yesterday that Nintendo had "intentionally dried up supply because they made their numbers for the year."

"No, that's not at all the case," says Harrison in a phone call to Next Generation. The Nintendo executive goes on to explain that it's simply a matter of competition amongst Wii territories, with Japan and Europe being just as desperate for stock. "People in Japan at NCL [Nintendo Co. Ltd.] are making the best decisions that they can about which products get shipped to which market and when." Of course, whether or not said decisions are "best" for consumers or for Nintendo's financial records is up for debate.

The argument against managed scarcity has always been that making more consoles means making more money (duh!), though this critically underestimates the value of "buzz" and the strange culture that has formed around supposedly scarce items. Already, there's an impression among many that the European PS3 launch was a "failure", simply because the system failed to sell out and attain a level of unattainability. Increasing supply may net Nintendo more profits in the short run, but what sort of gain can you associate with being in the headlines? The Wii has already snagged two headlines in the last two days because it's notably in short supply, not because it's readily available and doing well.

Managed scarcity does also not mean drying up the supply completely. Nintendo can sell a boatload of Wii's while still stopping short of satisfying demand and losing that hard-to-find status. If the company does decide to open the floodgates next month, they'll have lost nothing -- and the NPD sales results will show as much. Until then, just keep on asking for that Wii, implies Harrison. "Every retailer would want to have more [Wiis]. I think [DeMatteo's comments] may have been GameStop's way of trying to request more."
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