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Weak US Dollar Means Nintendo Favors Europe For Now 588

timeOday writes "The LA Times is reporting that the new Nintendo Wii Fit is hard to find on US shelves, due not only to strong demand but also the United States' declining status in the world economy: '"[Nintendo] is also is shrewdly maximizing its profit by sending four times as many units to Europe, reaping the benefits of the strong euro," says Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities. "The shortage demonstrates one consequence of the weak dollar. We're seeing companies ignore their largest market simply because they can make a greater profit elsewhere."'"
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Weak US Dollar Means Nintendo Favors Europe For Now

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:20PM (#23701339)
    I feel like a Canadian

    how long until US quarters get stuck/rejected by Canadian vending machines and laundermat washing machines
    • by HalAtWork ( 926717 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @06:43PM (#23703129)
      Oh, you laughed at us when you were on top, but I bet you wished you accepted our quarters now!
  • So, does this mean (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daimanta ( 1140543 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:21PM (#23701345) Journal
    that Europe won't recieve everything 4-12 months later than Japan and the US? Still waiting for SSB:B...
  • Bush (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Boronx ( 228853 ) <evonreis@mohr-engineerin g . com> on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:22PM (#23701357) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if this has anything to do with Bush running up trillions in debt and making everyone hate us?
    • Re:Bush (Score:5, Informative)

      by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @03:50PM (#23701979)
      I wonder if this has anything to do with Bush running up trillions in debt and making everyone hate us?

      Well look at it this way.

      The government is the only entity that can effectively control the amount of currency in circulation. It is the only entity that can create and destroy money by fiat; it can print currency, it can create funds to lend to central banks, and it can destroy the money it created.

      The government takes money from you every year in April. Someone has to repair roads, pick up garbage, provide for the common defense etc. Asphalt, garbage trucks, and missiles cost money. The government prints this money and spends it. It's all OK because it picks your pocket, pulls out dollars, and destroys them to account for it. And you shouldn't complain because you get to drive on nice roads with no garbage or foreigners.

      What if they didn't take your money? That's what George W. Bush did. He figured you'd like him more if we skipped the part where the money comes out of your pocket and gets burned up in order to close the books on the services you receive from the government. So the money escaped your pocket (or at least your $300 consolation prize did), and suddenly all this money that had been spent paving the roads and collecting garbage was suddenly appearing at Wal*Mart for its second life, and it got spent a second time to buy more garbage, predominantly imported crap from overseas. Basically the government printed crap dollars, we spent them on imports, giving sellers overseas dollars that they promptly exchange for their own currencies. The currency exchange markets are quickly overwhelmed by dollars. These quickly end up parked in immense T-Bills held by foreign banks, who would like to unload them but cannot risk damaging their value by flooding the dollar markets with their own holdings. But the value of the dollar is deteriorating anyway, much to everyone's dismay- because dollars are the most widely held currency in the world. And we owe them to everybody. You see how awkward this is.

      Let's say now you're sitting on a loading dock with 500 Nintendos on pallets. Do you want to turn them into dollars? Heh heh heh heh heh.

      But the invisible hand has a way to correct everything. Maybe someday we can make our own Nintendos.
  • by joocemann ( 1273720 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:27PM (#23701385)
    Europeans are already fit! Wii need it here so we can earn our dubba-chee!
  • Bah Humbug (Score:5, Informative)

    by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:27PM (#23701389)
    I hate how Europe always gets shafted, especially when it comes to gaming.
    Rarely do we ever get a title released here first, even titles that were developed here tend to get released in the USA first.
    What's more, Nintendo, Sony AND Microsoft have all indicated that they don't care for Europe.
    Sony is probably the worst offender, by giving us a stripped down PS3 at nearly twice the price as the US and Japan (There's only so much "tax" and "import costs" can account for).
    Rock band is actually cheaper to import from the US than it is to buy in the shops (it's almost twice the price when you buy the set and the game!). This is really nothing new, but it's still infuriating the way we get treated.
    • Cost of localisation (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tepples ( 727027 )

      Rarely do we ever get a title released here first, even titles that were developed here tend to get released in the USA first.
      I'd imagine that the number of customers per language is higher in North America and Japan than anywhere in Europe. Do Nintendo of Europe and the European Union even allow publishers to make an English-only release (for Irish and UK customers and intra-EU importers) followed by a multilingual release?
      • by neokushan ( 932374 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:33PM (#23701427)
        I've no idea, but there's no real reason to hold a title back from the UK just because they haven't translated it into French, Italian, German and Spanish (assuming it's not one of those titles with a language select in it, which are rare these days).
        It wouldn't be so bad, but they never bother to translate American English into British English, so really, what's the point in waiting?
      • by l-ascorbic ( 200822 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:36PM (#23701449)
        The EU has no rules stating that companies have to release multi-lingual stuff. Individual countries (France) have rules related to language, but I think that mostly applies to advertising. There's nothing to stop them just releasing it in the UK and Ireland, so long as they don't prevent people elsewhere importing it if they want to.
      • by miscz ( 888242 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:43PM (#23701489)
        Yes, at least in here in Poland it's a regular practice. What's totally fucked up is that english ones usually cost up to twice as much as the localised ones. Add that we aren't used to this kind of translations (movies in cinema are almost exclusively subtitled and TV uses voice-over via Gavrilov translation [wikipedia.org]) and it just feels wrong to hear our language used by Stroggs and other alien invaders.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Stevecrox ( 962208 )
      I agree completely with this, Rock Band was released in the USA more than 7 months ago because activision want to make an extra buck (by selling exclusive rights to xbox360) I have to wait an unknown number of months before I get the privilage of buying it on the PS3. Not only that but the cost of the game is greater than twice the american version (its normally double) In America you complain about a $450 console, how do you feel about paying ~$350 (£140) for a game?

      Its pretty much for those two re
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tweenk ( 1274968 )
      Slashdot is no better at European discrimination. I wanted to post a whiny comment about expensive Lego bricks in Europe, but some dork at /. decided to stay with ISO-8859-1 and this prevents me from using the Euro sign.
    • Yeah, but you guys also get games that I wish I could get here in the US. European game developers tend to gives games much better plot lines than the US game developers. For instance, I love the X series, and I had to scour the local games shops to find a copy of X2 and X3. Games with plots just don't sell as well here as games with explosions. Give me a well thought out plot before explosions, I say. That means I'm usually relying on German and UK based companies to deliver the goods.
  • by Chapium ( 550445 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:28PM (#23701397)
    If there is such strong demand, why not raise the price?
    • by Doppler00 ( 534739 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:57PM (#23701601) Homepage Journal
      Good question. Nintendo is losing quite a bit of money by not raising the price of the Wii to match market demand. I think in the U.S. people are too used to seeing the price of electronics fall yearly, but with our rapid inflation rate, that's not going to happen anymore.

      Nintendo should just go ahead and silently raise the price a little. Sure, there will be some anger but I don't think it would hurt their brand very much. They could always just say "because of the weakening U.S. dollar..." and I think people would get the point. Heck, even U.S. companies are doing that now.
  • by RealGrouchy ( 943109 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:35PM (#23701443)
    I'd have expected the headline to say "Nintento Favours Europe"

    - RG>
  • by PKFC ( 580410 ) <pkfc@@@hotmail...com> on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:45PM (#23701509)
    Turns out Europe overtook the US gaming market [kotaku.com] for FY2007.

    I hate hearing the whining of the article repeated elsewhere: "We're seeing companies ignore their largest market simply because they can make a greater profit elsewhere." That link I just posted says Japan is #1 in sales at $11.5 B USD, Europe is #2 at $11.4 B USD and US only pulled in $10.7 B USD. So companies aren't ignoring their largest market; they're giving the leftovers to the third largest market. Deal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
      "I hate hearing the whining of the article repeated elsewhere"

      TFA talks of the North American market. Tack on the Canadian numbers to those of the US and I'm sure you'll see the total top the Japanese numbers.
  • Repeat after me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maudib ( 223520 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:46PM (#23701521)
    There is no correlation between a weak dollar and the strength or status of the U.S. in the world economy. A weak dollar is not inherently bad either as it makes our exports more attractive and competitive.

    It always amazes me. When the dollar is strong everyone says the U.S. is loosing economic power because of trade imbalances (weak exports). When the dollar is weak and trade exports are much higher, then people claim the U.S. is loosing economic power because of the weak dollar. Obviously neither interpretation is accurate. A strong dollar can be good and bad, a weak dollar can be good and bad. In this case American video game exporters are probably benefiting from less competition from Nintendo.

    Such simplistic interpretations remind me of mercantilist theory, which is similairly idiotic. Carry on.
    • by Oktober Sunset ( 838224 ) <sdpage103@yahoo.coYEATS.uk minus poet> on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:54PM (#23701579)
      That's true, but the US is still going down the toilet.
    • by Gregb05 ( 754217 ) <bakergo.gmail@com> on Sunday June 08, 2008 @02:55PM (#23701593) Journal
      b-b-but... they took er JERBS!
    • While there is some truth in what you say -- and reporters make copy by selling "bad news", however they spin it -- the real question is: how weak is too weak? If markets begin to skip selling in the US in lieu of more lucrative markets elsewhere, I really don't see this as a "good thing". The US has lost much of its manufacturing and production capacity to other countries, so there is nothing in place to make up the short fall.

      The US is a war-driven ecomony, which is unfortunate on many fronts, let alone creating weapons and systems that kill innocents en masse -- there's an associated brain drain, and the goods created in most cases have no material use that would enhance wealth -- but rather, these devices are designed to destroy wealth as well as human lives.

      China has manufacturing capability up the ying-yang (no pun intended), and as I've stated before, if they were to choose to stop propping up the USD, the US would have far more to loose than they would. Also keep in mind the Euro markets that they could -- and probably are -- transistion to if they're smart.

      No, I'm afraid this is a different situation. It might be "ok" for the dollar to have *some* weakness from time to time, but you can't tell me it would be fine if the bottom fell out on the dollar entirely.

    • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @05:22PM (#23702581) Homepage Journal
      It is interesting theory. There have been a couple fascinating articles on this, the latest I have seen is this [foreignaffairs.org].

      Basically what it all boils down to is who has the economic growth, who has the money to support a large military, who has the money to buy off locals, and who has a compelling alternative government. A century and half ago, the powers were Spain and England. England had everything except cash and economic growth. Mosty people were kind of happy with the english way of life, and england had military power. However, due to england's lack of cash, it had to borrow money from the colonies, which meant that England was no longer a free agent. When you owe someone lots of money, you are no longer your own person.

      My main disagreement with the article is that the US has been in a real position of power for 100 years. We had some success in the early 20th century, but we never made it to international status due to the robber barons which put us in a hole that we did not crawl out of until the 50's, but not really until 70's. At this point we have had two solid generations of superpower status. We are not leaders in economic growth, and the middle class which used to defined growth is becoming non existent. The weak dollar is just making the middle class even smaller. Now, the government and the populous has to borrow,and who are we borrowing from, the chinese.

      One thing I heard about england is that it was not growing economically, and this what caused the loss of power. While the us is, we do not seem to be growing in such a way to increase spending and consumption. Those with median income and below has seen almost no growth in income over the past 40 years. Those with top 20% of income has seen their income jump 30% or more. Unless the economy is being based on yatchs and butlers, this is not a way to build a broad based economy.

      So the way to fix the economy is socialization. Spend 2 trillion a month on a war. Create new redundant departments to spend more money. Pump money into the economy be giving away cash. Don' bother with structural changes, don't worry about money that can't be paid back, just socialize, just like britain.

      Of course it is not the weak dollar that is the issue. It is the lack of discretionary income. It is the the fact that we are soon going to owe 40% of debt to foreign agents, who are now free to call us for favors, and we can no longer pressure. These facts put us back a pre-super power standing. What were the issues? Growth? We aren't on top. Debt? We owe everyone. Cash? We have none. Military? The F-22 is our cool jet, but the f-35 is yet to be built, and everything seems to be ineffective against kitchen table IEDs. The weak dollar is not the cause, but it is a symptom. We need to get serious about innovation, and serious about true fiscally conservative values.

    • by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday June 09, 2008 @12:31AM (#23705231) Homepage Journal

      There is no correlation between a weak dollar and the strength or status of the U.S. in the world economy.
      Wrong, for two reasons.

      One, lots and lots of countries have, over the past decades, hoarded US$ as reserve currency. They see investments of billions, in some cases trillions, of dollars rapidly deflate.
      Two, the world markets have changed. Point #1 is true because for a long time you could buy anything, anywhere in the world, with US$. That's changing. Thus your devalued currency is falling not only in purchasing power, but also in reach.

      And this feeds back directly to the strength and status of the US because the US is a huge importing nation. Since there's little it exports, there's little you - as a foreign country with three times your GDP bound up in US$ - can do to get rid of your rapidly declining reserve. You can buy some high-tech, and that's essentially it. The US exports too little to spend your money, and other countries aren't really interested in taking it, because they're also trying to get rid of the crap.

      The net effect of that is that the US becomes less and less important as a trading partner, because what they offer - US$ - is becoming worthless slips of fancy paper that you're desperately trying to get rid of, instead of getting even more of them.

      That's a lot of loss of strength and status compared to a time where most of the world was trying hard to do business with you.
  • Market? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2008 @03:04PM (#23701637)
    "largest market"? Last I checked, the EU had more inhabitants than the USA.

    Just saying.
  • americans who raise their hackles when faced with the scarcity of a video game console

    the very existence of this story is a sign of the decline of american society

    "where's my blinking flashing noisy shiny drug!?"

    you can rest assured any serious society on the move isn't obsessing over video game consoles

    now go ahead, mod me a troll. prove me yet more right
  • Quid pro quo? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by frisket ( 149522 ) <[peter] [at] [silmaril.ie]> on Sunday June 08, 2008 @03:37PM (#23701853) Homepage
    Why is this surprising? US companies have been doing this in reverse for a few centuries: this is why so many products are available in the USA which are unheard-of in Europe. It's not just American insularity, although that may be a component: it's just what the companies fondly believe to be market forces (usually they're wrong anyway, but that's the principle).
  • What a coincidence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @04:21PM (#23702201)

    OPEC is doing this with their oil as well.

    Nobody wants dollars any more. That their value hasn't collapsed completely is due to the fact that every foreign national banking system has a vault full of dollars. Unloading them all at once would be the biggest run on the banking system you've ever seen. So oil (and many other commodity) producers 'officially' trade their product in dollars. Unless you happen to have Euros, Yuan, or some other desirable currency. Then you get a discount.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 08, 2008 @04:55PM (#23702419)
    This isn't at all a symptom of the relative weakness of the dollar to the Euro, it's actually a perfect example of the complex self-regulation mechanisms of the global market.

    More Wiis in Europe -> More gaming options for Europeans -> More gaming hours for Europeans -> Less working hours for Europeans -> Less, and lower quality, European goods -> Less demand for European goods on the US market -> Stronger dollar relative to the Euro.

    So what's the problem?
  • by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @05:16PM (#23702549) Homepage
    Europe gets the shaft in gaming compared to Japan and the US. Hopefully things will balance out and we won't be treated like lepers by gaming companies.
  • O RLY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nicolaiplum ( 169077 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @05:33PM (#23702643)
    I've been trying to buy one of those Wii Fits that are supposedly all over Europe and I can't find any for sale in the UK.
    Amazon.de has some, that's all I can find. No English versions anywhere.
    I'm sure some 'leet slashdotter knows where there's a secret stash in the UK, and they may even tell me, but that doesn't change the fact that they're effectively unobtainable in the UK too.

  • Mexico (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Roadmaster ( 96317 ) <roadmr&tomechangosubanana,com> on Sunday June 08, 2008 @07:39PM (#23703569) Homepage Journal
    Yes, well, here in Mexico we enjoy a nearly 100% markup over US prices (the Wii is US $470 and Wii Fit will run you US $150). And indeed you can see mountains of boxes in stores, even walmart stocks tons of wiifits and wiis. So while a lot of them will languish for a while on the shelf, Nintendo knows that those who sell will give them a really huge profit. By ignoring the economic reality of the country, where a cheaper console would indeed move a larger number of unis, they maximize their profit by catering to those who would indeed pay those sums for the console. Sadly that excludes about 98% of the population.
  • Largest? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Zebra_X ( 13249 ) on Sunday June 08, 2008 @09:58PM (#23704061)
    "We're seeing companies ignore their largest market simply because they can make a greater profit elsewhere"

    Wiki indicates that there are approximately 495 million people[1] within the borders of the EU member states.

    So America is not really "their largest market". The conversion rate is much more in favor of the EU residents.

    We'll get our Wii Fits eventually, but only after people whos dollars are worth more than ours.


Would you people stop playing these stupid games?!?!?!!!!