Nintendo plans huge UK Wii tour

Reckons Wii will sell out, too.

Nintendo of Europe marketing director Dawn Paine has told our sister-site GamesIndustry.biz that the company is confident the Wii will be a sell-out success this Christmas.

Nintendo plans to launch its largest ever sampling campaign in the UK this month, with a two month tour set to run from November 10 until January 13.

The tour will visit more than 60 locations across the UK and Ireland, and Nintendo intends to give one million consumers the chance to try out the Wii by the time the console launches on December 8.

"To really understand how fantastic Wii is, you really need to get your hands on it and play it. It's that straightforward," Paine told GI.biz.

"It's such a departure from anything else. It's not just necessarily about the graphics - it is just much more about the gameplay and understanding how the interface works."

The tour will focus on key mainstream and family destinations, including shopping centres such as Bluewater, the Birmingham Bullring and Sheffield's Meadow Hall. Consumers will also be able to try out the Wii at events like the Good Food Show, the Ideal Home Exhibition and Glasgow's Irn Bru Carnival.

A full itinerary will be available to view on the Wii website.

There are two ways consumers will be able to try out the Wii. Firstly, a series of modular sets have been created to look like fully furnished living rooms and bedrooms, into which people are free to walk and start playing. Nintendo will also supply a series of "busking units" which can easily be unloaded and moved around.

"From a sampling perspective, because the tour is going to be so broad, we're going to be in locations where we're engaging with different types of consumer," Paine explained, adding that retailers have so far been "thrilled" with what they've seen of Nintendo's marketing plans.

"If we're in a shopping mall where there are maybe ten different retailers, once people have played it and realised how great it is, then obviously it gives them an opportunity to pick up a sale on the day."

When asked if the Wii is likely to sell out this Christmas, Paine replied, "I'm absolutely sure it will," adding, "Pre-orders are looking very, very healthy."

The Wii will launch in the UK alongside more than 20 games - just three of which will be first party titles. But according to Paine, "Our point of view is not to get too parochial as to whether it's first or third party, because obviously we've got a plethora of third party games there as well. We believe we've got a really great line-up across both first and third party."

Nor is Nintendo concerned with competing against the Xbox 360 - the Wii's main rival for Christmas cash now that the European launch of PlayStation 3 has been delayed until March.

"We don't want to sound arrogant or complacent about this, but from our point of view, we're just such a different entity and experience from anything else in the marketplace that we don't really see anything else as competition," Paine said.

"Because our product has got such broad mainstream appeal, we're sure that we're going to sell through all of our Christmas stock. We know that retail are so enthused about Wii that we're pretty much going to be taking over retail at Christmas. We're just really confident that Wii's going to be the huge hit."

But what about next year, when Sony's new console is also on the shelves - is Wii likely to be the market leader come Christmas 2007?

"I believe so, yes," said Paine. "We're confident that Wii is going to take the UK market by storm, so when I get my crystal ball out, yes, that's what we would see happening next year."

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