Christmas Morning Marred by Grumbles, Groans

Dennis Faas's picture

Many of us have simply accepted that the holiday season's hottest Christmas gifts are often hard to find. In some ways, that makes up about half of their appeal. However, for the two companies behind this season's most in-demand items, customer complaints are beginning to mount. Could it even affect their post-Christmas sales?

Few of us are new to the Nintendo Wii shortage. Even those that haven't much interest in owning the cutesy little console -- myself included -- it's no secret that the device is very hard to get, and has been for a remarkable amount of time. In fact, finding the Wii has been a treasure hunt since customers first realized it had much more to offer than its November 2006 launch rival, Sony's PlayStation 3.

Nintendo's answer has been the introduction of "rain-check certificates" at Gamestop stores, one of America's most popular gaming chains. With the hardware almost impossible to rope in before Christmas, this guarantees that parents can get their kids the console by sometime in January. It also means little Billy and Betsy were able to open something on the morning of December 25. (Source:

Also being slammed for their Christmas conduct is Electronic Arts, the world's most dominant game publisher. This year, EA's most sensational release has undoubtedly been Rock Band, the Guitar Hero rival that places an entire stage worth of plastic instruments in the hands of gamers. It's definitely a cool idea, even for $170, and has led to a frenzy comparable to Wii lineups.

The problem is, not even retailers understand EA's policy on shipping the game or its kitschy hardware. The title has dribbled to retailers from time to time in the last month, with a major shipment set to supply stores like Best Buy, Gamestop, and others last week. Although some did receive about 30 copies, others were told that the game would be delayed until December 28, well after Santa's visit.

As a result, even retailers are baffled as to when Rock Band might actually arrive. It led one Toronto-based EB Games employee to remark, "There are going to be a lot of upset customers this Christmas." (Source:

Indeed, there has been a lot of frustration towards tech's heaviest hitters in the last few years. However, electronics shortages have become both a retail and marketing staple. Given the demand for the Nintendo Wii and EA's Rock Band, it's unlikely that the buzz -- or the shortages -- are going to be any exec's New Year's resolution this January.

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