New York Nintendo's quirky new video game console, the Wii, goes on sale today, just two days after the launch of the rival PlayStation 3 from Sony turned violent at some stores. The release of the Wii is expected to be less dramatic, mainly because Nintendo has made sure to have a lot more units available than Sony could muster.
Launching right after the much-hyped PlayStation 3 is a brave move for Nintendo Co., which is playing catch-up after losing dominance of the home console market to Sony Corp. in the mid-90s.
The console itself is a daring design: it eschews the high-definition graphics that are the main selling points of the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360, which came out a year ago. Instead, Nintendo hopes to attract a new generation of fans by changing the way games are played. The console comes with a motion-sensitive controller that acts as a tennis racket, baseball bat, steering wheel, gun or sword, depending on the game.
The Wii costs $250 and includes one game. The two PlayStation 3 models cost $500 and $600, with no included game. The two Xbox 360 models cost $300 and $400, with no game. Online, the prices are steeper: PlayStation 3s were selling for about $2,500 on eBay Saturday, while Wiis were listed at around $500, or double the store price.
Sony had about 400,000 PlayStation 3s in North American stores on Friday. Nintendo has said it would have "five to 10" times as many Wiis available at launch, and will have shipped 4 million units by the end of the year. It still expects consoles to sell out in stores.
In a somewhat unusual move for a Japanese company, the Wii was scheduled to go on sale in Japan two weeks after the U.S. launch, the opposite of Sony's launch order. Nintendo said it made the decision to get in on U.S. holiday shopping, which starts earlier than shopping in Japan.