NEW YORK – Nintendo Co. said on Thursday that it chose GameStop Corp. (GME) and Toys "R" Us as the U.S. retailers that will host the launch of its new Wii video game console, which goes on sale on November 19.
GameStop and Toys "R" Us have already taken Wii "pre-orders," in which customers are able to reserve a console in advance of the official launch.
With demand for the Wii already building, video game retailer GameStop and toy store Toys "R" Us said they had quickly run through the supply of consoles that they allotted for the early orders.
The Wii launch will take place two days after Sony Corp.'s (SNE) PlayStation 3 hits U.S. stores, marking the start of the holiday shopping season when video game makers traditionally reap more than half of their annual sales.
In a repeat of Microsoft Corp's (MSFT) introduction of the XBox 360 last year, the Wii and the PS3 are expected to be in short supply as demand outstrips the companies' ability to turn out the new devices.
The Wii comes with a motion-sensing controller that lets players simulate swinging a tennis racquet, hitting a golf ball or wielding a sword.
Its $249.99 price tag is a fraction of the cost of the PlayStation 3, which is priced at $499.99 or $599.99 depending on features.
Toys "R" Us' flagship Times Square store in New York and GameStop's Universal CityWalk store in Los Angeles will host the official launch event.
While other consumer electronics retailers, such as Best Buy Co Inc. (BBY) and Circuit City (CC) may also start selling the unit at midnight on the 19th, the partnership could mean that Toys "R" Us and GameStop may have better access to Wii supplies.
A GameStop spokesman said the company was not releasing any Wii allocation or reservations figures.
A spokeswoman for Toys "R" Us said the retailer "will be in a great stock position" for the midnight launch.
Even if GameStop and Toys "R" Us do not snag a better-than-average supply, aligning themselves with Nintendo and the launch publicity could help boost traffic in their stores, as customers come to them seeking the new system.
Toys "R" Us, which has struggled in recent years with difficult market conditions for toy sellers, earlier this year installed a former Best Buy executive as president of its U.S. business and has said it is looking to expand relationships with electronics manufacturers as it tries to boost sales.
The "official" Nintendo midnight launch events at Toys "R" Us and GameStop will feature live music and entertainment, and a countdown to the moment that the console goes on sale.