I have to say that my attempts to purchase a Nintendo Wii have to be my absolute worst consumer experiences in recent years. They're not quite as bad as my Best Buy GPS experience a few years ago (that I would link to, but I guess I never blogged about it — but the executive summary is that I was ignored by everyone, even after doing things that should have gotten me kicked out by security), but are still pretty bad. I would like to give the local Gamestop the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to negligence, although part of me just wants to call them big fat liars. The Wii is supposed to be a great system for casual gamers, right? Then why is it only available to the hardcore gamers — the folks that will go to the store at 4am to get a goddamn video game console — or the folks that don't mind paying a $200 markup on eBay? What about that is “casual?”
Backing up a bit: earlier in the week, I decided I would use part of my Christmas bonus to buy a Wii. Sure, the Wii is a video game system that I will likely play for a few weeks or months, then tire of — like every other video game software, handheld, or console I have ever owned, but if the Christmas bonus was paying for it, it's not like I'm buying it with my own money, right? (This is all casting aside the fact that we will not be receiving bonuses until next week, but with the growth of the company and of my responsibilities, it should more than cover one.)
So, yes, earlier in the week, I decided to get a Wii. The two places I stopped by near work (Gamestop and Target) were both out. In the 2 minutes I was in each place, there was someone ahead of me and behind me also asking for the Wii. It's apparently a popular item. Both shops would be getting more in on the 17th. More to the point, both places have been shipped large quantities of Wiis with explicit instructions not to open the shipping containers or sell the units until the 17th, but there is no waiting list. It will be first-come-first-served. Okay. Fair'nuff.
Today, I call up the local Gamestop at 10am and ask about the Wii. The guy at the store says he's not sure how many they have because they haven't opened the shipping boxes yet, but they should have plenty. I figured I would be one of the lucky few to get a Wii–all of the hardcore gamers probably got theirs on opening night and all of the casual gamer families were off at church and hadn't gotten around to getting one today yet. After hopping in the car and arriving a few minutes later, I was told they had sold out at 7am. People were in line in the wee hours of the morning and they had sold out almost instantly. Similar lines and sales occurred at the other Gamestops, I was told. The Target stores that I called had similar stories. So the guy on the phone at Gamestop either neglected to let me know that the ones they had were marked for opening later in the week (if they even had more at all–which was hard to get confirmation of) or he outright lied. Either way, it makes me an unhappy person. After this, I'm having second thoughts about getting a Wii and refuse to get one from Gamestop if it turns out that I do still want one. Like I said, I'll probably play it for a few weeks or months, then tire of it–and for that, it's just not worth this craziness. I'm already starting to warm up to the idea of upgrading my crusty old Treo to the new 680, which I guarantee will get more use than a video game console.
In conclusion: Fuck you very much, Gamestop. Fuck you very much, Nintendo. “Casual,” my ass.