The price gouging begins: Wii U preorders going for up to $750 on eBay | Ars Technica
Preorders for Nintendo's upcoming Wii U sold out at every major retailer almost immediately after they were first offered in mid-September, but you can still guarantee yourself access to the system just after its November 18 launch. You'd better be ready to pay quite a bit extra for the privilege, though.
Completed eBay listings dating back to Sept. 20 show resold preorders for the 32GB "Deluxe" system (which comes with a copy of NintendoLand and some accessories) selling for an average of $517, 48 percent higher than the $350 retail price. The eBay markup is significantly less for the 8GB "Basic" system, which is averaging $348 in pre-sale auctions, or just 16 percent above the $300 asking price. That doesn't include pricy shipping for some of the auctions, or auctions that bundle the system with games and further accessories.
One lucky eBay reseller convinced someone to pay $749 for his launch-day Deluxe system—a high price, but not nearly as ridiculous as the $1,550 one Buy It Now seller tried (and failed) to get for his Basic system preorder. On the other end of the scale, a couple of savvy eBay shoppers actually managed to purchase preorders at below retail price, no doubt to the chagrin of the resellers.
Wii U prices aren't any better elsewhere on the Web. Amazon resellers are pricing launch-day access to the Deluxe system at $600 to $1,500, and Basic sets are going for $440 to $1,000 (though it's hard to gauge just how well any of these offerings are actually selling). If that doesn't strike your fancy, you can pay $699 for an accessory-packed "fitness bundle" at a reputable-sounding site like WiiShopExpress.com.
The first Wii was nearly impossible to find for months after its late 2006 launch, and memories of that sales frenzy are likely driving much of the price inflation for resold Wii U preorders ("Remember The First Wii Was Sold Out For Three Consecutive Holiday Seasons," one eBay seller warned in big blue letters). The Wii's extended shortages led some to theorize that Nintendo was intentionally holding back supply to make the system seem more desirable, a charge Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime stringently denied. The fact that the Wii was consistently outselling its higher-priced competition for years also suggests the shortages were caused more by high demand than artificially low supply, though there is some circumstantial evidence that Nintendo has tightly controlled its hardware supplies in the past.
It's way too early to say whether the Wii U will be equally hard to find after the frenzy of its first holiday season is over, but the presence of dozens of completed eBay listings that didn't receive a single bid, even at relatively sane prices, suggest the launch day resale market may already be getting saturated. Still, for those that scoffed at Nintendo offering its system at a starting price as high as $300, these online resales suggest the company might actually have left some money on the table by not charging more for the first wave of consoles.