While the PS3 launch may have made headlines due to stock shortages and lengthy queues, the situation couldn’t have seemed more different for the launch of the Nintendo Wii in Canada just two days later.
Thanks to healthy supplies, the Wii didn’t get much more than a cursory reference in the mainstream press - with most news reports giving it only a brief mention as PS3's competitor for the title of "this Christmas’s hottest toy".
However, on the streets the situation seemed entirely different, with the queues observed by GamesIndustry.biz at stores in downtown Toronto equalling those for PlayStation 3.
Priced at CAN $279.99 (Euro 190) including the Wii Sports pack-in - which is actually marginally cheaper than the suggested retail price in the US - the system was sold out in most stores before they'd even opened, to the surprise of many consumers who arrived to queue early in the morning, expecting low demand.
At Best Buy, a large crowd had gathered by 7am on Sunday. The Toronto Star reported that many of those in the local area who bought a PlayStation 3 were reselling the console to pay off the cost of a Wii, but GamesIndustry.biz did not find anyone in the queue with that story to tell. Nor did we find a single person planning to sell their new Nintendo console.
At the head of the queue was a high school student who said, "We’ve been asking people as they come up if they’re keeping it, and only a very, very small percentage of people have said they’re eBaying it. Almost everyone is keeping it. It’s quite a difference."
The student said he'd been waiting "two years, ever since E3 2004" for the Wii, though his wait outside Best Buy began at 3pm on Saturday afternoon. "Everybody in the line-up has had a fantastic time; everybody has had so much fun," he said. "Honestly, this entire night has been an incredible experience for many of us."
When asked what it was about the Wii that he liked so much, the student replied, "The system, Zelda, absolutely everything about it... I just absolutely adore Nintendo."