Ahead of the European launch of Nintendo's Wii, retailers have told GamesIndustry.biz that consumers without pre-orders are unlikely to secure a unit until the new year.
The level of demand for Nintendo's new console has been so feverish that DSG Group — the parent company of High Street retailer Currys and PC World, as well as dixons.co.uk — expects that even with four separate deliveries between now and Christmas, it won't be able to satisfy pre-orders until 2007.
"We're expecting to fulfil all pre-orders on the day," said Hamish Thompson of DSG. "We're continuing to take pre-orders but informing consumers that they probably won't be able to be fulfilled until after Christmas."
"We're expecting four deliveries between now and Christmas and we expect them all to go to pre-orders. If customers haven't already pre-ordered then they've probably missed the boat."
It's not just DSG's retail outlets that will have to cope with a shortage, with the firm predicting a similar story across both High Street and online stores, as Nintendo takes advantage of a gap left by rival manufacturer Sony
"Wii units at any retail outlets are going to be as rare as hens' teeth before Christmas," said Thompson.
"With the delay of the PlayStation 3 in Europe, Nintendo has got a clear run this season."
The Wii launches officially tomorrow, December 8th, across Europe. Many retailers are holding launch events, with specialist stores such as GAME and Gamestation holding midnight openings this evening.
Nintendo has chosen HMV as its official UK launch partner, with its flagship Oxford Street store opening at 11pm for a celebrity attended event.
GamesIndustry.biz will feature full coverage of the Wii launch throughout the day tomorrow, with retailer and consumer reaction to the new console.