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Shoot from the Lip: Nintendo Where?

Whose dick do I have to suck to buy a bog standard, on-its-own Nintendo Wii around here? In the weeks before Christmas I’ve started to notice a growing trend in the highstreet and online retailers of bundling shovelware with the console for astronomical prices – shit you just don’t need.

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My personal experience came in the form of a Currys advert in our local paper, showing the console and the latest triple-A title Super Mario Galaxy for a finger-licking good £204.99. A quick phonecall revealed that the package was no longer in stock, but by leaving my name and number I could be put on a list to warrant a phone call back the following week when the next shipment arrived. Lo and behold, back on time the phone rings a week later, only to be met with the news that the bundle was now excluding Mario’s latest outing in favour of 4 games “of my choice” for a paltry £350 – that’s £145 more than was previously promised.

Of course, my immediate reaction was that Currys had seen how many people were interested in their advert and decided to squeeze more money out of them with a desperate, pleading phone call. Whether that’s the truth or not remains to be seen, but what is worth nothing is that other retailers are doing the exact same thing; Game, Gamestation, HMV, Virgin Megastores, Argos, Sendit, Shopto, Gameplay and Play.com all have weekly bundles without choice for the machine on its own, with only Amazon UK providing infrequent stock seemingly without notice.

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Annoyed by this poor selection I took to the cold and wet streets of Darlington to try and find out if it was possible to order a console on its own, and without getting all undercover reporter on yo’ ass, I was unsurprised to come home empty handed. GAME, HMV, Woolworths and WHSmith all sold bundles, and after some interaction with staff it was made clear that these were the only choices – and no, none were in stock. But that’s not what I was after – the console has been out of stock for almost a year since its release, what I was after was a whistleblower to this dastardly deed of the retail industry. And in Chipsworld I found them.

Not naming names, a superior staff member from a store located away from Darlington confirmed that the company were sending Wii consoles in bundles “not to those that had pre order lists filled, but to stores that they knew could fetch the most for them”. One example was that of a Nintendo Wii, Ratatouille, Smackdown, Need for Speed Pro Street and Big Brain Academy coupled with a charger stand and accessory pack for £450, shifted just 20 minutes after delivery.

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Business is business, and when stock falls short the price rises, but is it fair that shops and online retailers take advantage to stick shovelware titles with the console to squeeze out extra cash? The entire point of the Nintendo Wii’s low price point was to entice non-gamers into our world, but at this moment in writing it’s possible to get the out-of-print 60GB Playstation 3 with 3 games for the same price of a Wii and 4 games – the very same Sony console we all jumped on due to the high price point. I’d personally like to see Nintendo unleash the ban hammer on retailers taking advantage, or at least package first party titles with the console so those hit by the higher prices actually have something decent to play over Christmas.

The author of this fine article

is a Senior Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in June 2002.

Gentle persuasion

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