So, there I was, laying in bed at 4:30 wondering what the hell I’m doing. Gamers are a special breed – we’ll do anything for the latest copy of Call of Duty, Diablo, Gran Turismo or Uncharted. Or Halo. We’ll camp outside the store and we’ll be jovial with other people in the line and wait for whatever sale or launch we were gathering there for. That’s what makes this hobby so special – it brings people together. Unlike the launches of Apple’s i-devices, where people just want to buy them and leave, everyone was comfortable chilling out for the morning with like-minded people. And when I say “chilling”, I mean we were really freezing our butts off.
My brother and I left the house at 5:15 and arrived in PE at 6AM. When we got there, already seven people had lined up. Four had slept outside the store overnight and the other three had arrived in the early hours of the morning. They were a strange group – young and old – that had played on the Wii or owned other game consoles and games on various platforms. Like myself and my brother, they couldn’t pass up the chance to snag a next-generation console only six months old at the price of a low R1000.
“Is this a sign that the Wii U is failing?,” they asked and to that I had no answer. Its barely seven months on from launch and there isn’t a lot of support for it locally. There are a couple of great games and the console has backwards compatibility, but there’s not enough advertising locally. To add insult to injury and the low sales numbers, the console is also overpriced. In stores nationwide, the Wii U ZombiU edition costs a staggering R5000.
I know there’s a lot of technology going into it, but when the Wii Mini is only R1400 and the Xbox 360 and PS3 contend for the R3000 sweet-spot, there’s just no chance that sales will pick up. You had to be a fan to overlook the price and pit it against what you were getting with the console. And even then, there’s a large update that needs to be done if you want to browse the online store.
Then again, this was the same situation with the PS3. It was too expensive, not enough games were available and the Xbox was cheaper and had a wider selection of titles. Today they trade blows but in 2006 it was almost the same situation today – a big gun in the industry coming to the firefight with a finely crafted samurai sword, when the other players are all packing 9mm handguns.
Some people asked, “Is this because of that rumour that Core group has lost the Nintendo licence?” I’m not so sure. Some people on the forums have hinted that its true, but MyGaming picked up on the wind of that rumour and asked the company itself – “No” said a higher-up person. Whether that’s true or not is something that we have yet to find out, but the fire sale of the Premium edition did prove three things:
1) If its priced right and does what the consumer wants, chances are they Wii-l flock to buy it
2) The low price gave more people the chance to compliment it with a game and some accessories. At R4600 for the Premium black edition with Nintendoland, that wouldn’t have been possible for most.
3) Everyone knew about the special through advertising or word of mouth informed by advertising.
The small group outside the Toys R Us store kept things civil and friendly and when the store opened, we were greeted by friendly staff. The security guards asked us to form a line into the door and everything was done sensibly – no tomfoolery, or you’re kicked out and the next person in line will take your place. There wasn’t a lot of cheering or shouting once people got their consoles and I suppose they were perhaps tired or still cold. Or, much more likely, they were too busy sighing with relief – many of the people gathered outside said that they can’t buy the Wii U outright and this was their first chance of actually owning one.
But so far I’m happy with my purchase. It was a freezing cold Thursday morning and there was no food and no coffee, but despite that fact I rather enjoyed it. I realise, just as my brother and I did when we clubbed together for our first PS3, that the games will eventually come and it will sell in as much numbers as the Wii. Nintendo’s always done the gaming side of things right – no-one bought the Wii for the visuals, it was all about the gameplay. I look forward to joining in the fun of Mario Kart, Pikmin 3 and whatever new twist to the Legend of Zelda saga is out. I look forward to the Metroid universe and finally (finally!) playing as Samus.
Where you at the fire sale? Did you grab your console online or in line? Let us know in the comments section and in the forums.