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GameStop reports high demand for Wii U consoles, games

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"we have a really good read on [Wii U] demand" GameStop

GameStop is "bullish" on the upcoming Wii U launch, with high demand for both hardware and software exhibited by strong pre-order numbers, said GameStop executives on an investor call today for the retail giant's third-quarter financial report.

The company is now reporting that "nearly 500,000" people have joined its wait list for Wii U consoles. GameStop set up the wait list in late September exclusively for PowerUp Rewards members, and as of mid-October, more than 250,000 customers had joined the list. GameStop president Tony Bartel noted, "We have limited knowledge of [Wii U] supply, and we may not be able to satisfy the strong demand during our fourth quarter."

According to GameStop executives, the uncertainty in Wii U supply is a major factor in how cautious the company is being with its fourth-quarter earnings guidance. "That's a common place to be during a launch with Nintendo," said an executive.

But GameStop believes it is in a much better position to keep customers satisfied, because elements like the wait list — which did not exist for the Wii's launch in 2006 — give the company a "really good read on demand." GameStop will notify wait list members as soon as their local store receives a new shipment of consoles. "You don't have to chase a UPS truck; you don't have to go store-to-store," said an executive.

GameStop also expects initial software sales to be high. According to the company, customers have pre-ordered more than 1.2 million copies of launch games, with the most popular titles being ZombiU, Assassin's Creed 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Scribblenauts Unlimited and New Super Mario Bros. U. Bartel added that the ratio of reserved games to reserved consoles — the all-important attach rate — is "more than double that of the original Wii launch."