Japan snaps up 400,000 Wii units

Nintendo plans to release 4 million units worldwide by end of year

Stores across the country are reporting first-day sellouts of Nintendo’s new Wii game console.

Nintendo shipped 400,000 units for Wii’s debut in Japan on Saturday — four times the number of PlayStation 3 consoles Sony had in stores for its November Japanese bow. Eager consumers quickly snapped up the entire stock, in many cases either by placing advance orders or by lining up hours before stores opened their doors.

At the Bic Camera store in Tokyo’s Yurakucho district the line of customers stretched nearly 400 meters before store staff called a halt at 5:40 a.m., saying all 3,000 consoles were spoken for. The first customer in line had waited 33 hours.

Meanwhile, a Yodobashi Camera store in Osaka reported all of its 2,800 Wiis were sold by 6 a.m., again before store doors had opened.

In Japan the Wii console is priced at Y25,000 ($217), compared with $414 for a basic model PS3 (that’s down from the original price of $520).

Nintendo plans to release 4 million units worldwide by the end of the year, compared with an expected 2 million units shipped for the PS3.

Japanese game magazine Enterbrain, however, predicts after a year, backed by lower prices and more computing power, the PS3 will take the lead in the Japanese market.