Several major retailers are already sold out of the system online, meaning they've put a halt on pre-orders. Others, it seems, aren't even giving people the online pre-order option, apparently reserving their stock for the launch day stampede.
Joystiq did some sleuthing and found the system was no longer available at the websites of some of the country's biggest stores. Best Buy, Toys 'R' Us and Target have stopped taking orders on both versions of the system. Sears and Kmart, meanwhile, have seemingly sold out of the $350 Deluxe version and aren't selling the $300 Basic model.
GameStop is seeing inventories depleted, with the Deluxe version sold out, though the Basic version is still in stock.
Even Wal-Mart hasn't been able to keep up with demand. Both SKUs are sold out on a standalone basis, but if you'd like to buy the store-exclusive bundle (which tosses in a game and a Wii remote for an extra $50), you can still grab one of those for $399.
As for Amazon, it's sitting out this particular pre-order war. While some of its retail partners are trying to gouge Nintendo fans with prices ranging from $500 to $600 for the system, Amazon itself is not offering the console yet.
Online sellouts don't mean you won't be able to get your hands on a Wii U come Nov. 18, but they do increase the odds that you'll have to stand outside of your local retailer and fight the masses for one. This is reminiscent, of course, of the scene when the original Wii went on sale. Nintendo execs are likely doing celebratory dances.
The original Wii was not only the smash hit of the holiday season when it launched in 2006, it remained hard to find for several months into the next year (and saw massive sell-outs the following Christmas as well). That helped make the Wii a cultural phenomenon and fueled Nintendo's rise to the top of the video game mountain for a good part of this console generation.
There's certainly no guarantee the Wii U will enjoy the same fate, but it's definitely off to a good start.
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