News Article

Talking Point: The Terrible Timing of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate's Stock Issues

Posted by Thomas Whitehead

LEGO City Undercover had problems in North America, too

There's a strange dichotomy at work right now with Nintendo, Wii U and its games. We endured an undeniable retail software drought, with game retailers probably weary of trying to sell the same old launch titles week after week. We then had two diverse, high profile games arrive near each other to fill the yawning gap in the release schedule, and Nintendo has been either publisher or responsible for marketing and distribution. While debates about marketing are one thing, we want to consider the scenario of stock shortages for both LEGO City: Undercover and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate in North America and Europe.

In basic terms, it's problematic and peculiar, in that we wouldn't expect to see a shortage of copies of a new Halo or God of War title on other systems; if comparing those first-party games is unfair, then let's say we'd find shortages of BioShock Infinite on either PS3 or Xbox 360 surprising. In the case of both LEGO City and MH3U, it's also worth being clear that Nintendo published the former worldwide, and has been responsible for marketing and distribution of the latter in Europe. To start with LEGO City, it had a number of midnight launches cancelled in North America, with various reports on the Twittersphere that retailers either didn't have enough copies or were receiving stock days after the official launch date. It hit a day before Capcom's monster-slaying epic, and was being held up as a potential family friendly boost to the system. Sales in the UK have been modest, and only the upcoming NPD results will enlighten us on the equivalent results in the U.S.

Yet still, plenty of gamers told us that they'd found copies hard to find on the high street, with our own staff making cracks about it in our regular "what games are you playing this weekend" article. And then we have Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate; as stated before, it's a Capcom game but Nintendo of Europe is responsible for distributing the game in this region. Yet we've had problems, with anecdotal evidence pointing to various retailers or areas with limited stock, with our own Mike Mason telling us that he was in one store that only fulfilled pre-orders, seeing multiple other disappointed customers turned away. Confirmation that it was a notable problem came via an apology from Nintendo of Europe President, Satoru Shibata.

Problems with game availability aren't new or limited to Wii U; Nintendo's recent ails with distribution also affected Fire Emblem: Awakening in North America, once again with limited availability at retailers. If you go back far enough there are other more famous examples, one of which being The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. One of our staff members worked at a video game store when that launched — we'll preserve his anonymity to protect his age — and recalls that there were 200 preorders but only six copies that arrived for launch day. In the days of cartridge manufacturing that was perhaps more understandable, though not exactly pleasing for the 194 frustrated pre-order customers in that case.

Of course, times are different and we're now in a world of discs, and though stock of these Wii U games may be pretty decent around online retailers, their struggling presence in stores is a problem for keen gamers and for the Wii U's image. Frustratingly, it's Nintendo dropping the ball in these examples, so we can't play the "third-parties not trying hard enough" card. If Wii U was in the midst of a packed release schedule and competing for limited shelf space for multiple new titles, perhaps we'd understand, but these stock issues arriving after such a retail drought give little confidence to the retail market. It's not as if demand isn't there, at least in the case of Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, as the messages we've received and Shibata-san's own tweets testify.

Wii U needs to sell games, and to do so those games need to be readily available in various high-street stores. We've written before about the importance of retailers in the context of a Wii U price war, and Nintendo has made noises about re-assuring these companies and keeping them on board. Achieving sales against a backdrop of a slow release calendar is one thing, but the many tales of limited stock of these two titles is truly disappointing. A lack of copies for stores to sell should have been the last problem that retailers faced. Perhaps some retailers haven't bought huge numbers of Nintendo games as stock in previous times, but the story this time around seems to have been about availability, not the market's enthusiasm.

Of course, we're reminded that these games are always available on the eShop. We've covered the issue of retail downloads a lot, and for many it's not a viable replacement. Maybe a number of consumers don't want to pay top-dollar for a download tied to hardware, perhaps they don't fancy buying a hard-drive in order to have space, or perhaps it's just a preference to have a disc in possession forever more. If someone wants a physical copy from the high street and has trouble finding one — perhaps they're not buying online as they prefer to use cash in hand — then saying "it's also on the eShop" isn't a solution in itself. We hope that by the time the next wave of major Wii U releases comes around, we won't be writing about how gamers keen to spend money on their Wii U are finding it difficult and inconvenient to do so.

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User Comments (62)

bezerker99

#1

bezerker99 said:

OMG, I wish NA had that MH3U Wii U bundle as well as that 3DS XL. :-P

Regarding the game shortage...You almost can't make that stuff up. What were they thinking!?!?!?!

k8sMum

#2

k8sMum said:

perhaps it is a not-too subtle push for us all to have to download games.

XCWarrior

#3

XCWarrior said:

I know this sounds like a conspiracy theory, but pretty sure this is done on purpose to push digital sales. Those are cheaper, higher profit for both Nintendo and Capcom.

Just a theory... but this has happened to many times in the last few months with SOFTWARE. It should never happen with SOFTWARE. (Besides Atlas/Xseed games because they do everything limited edition.)

Dpishere

#4

Dpishere said:

It is a shame that some people are having trouble finding a copy of the game as it is my personal favorite game released on the 3ds thus far. Hopefully those who do want to purchase it will be able to do so soon.

AbeVigoda

#5

AbeVigoda said:

Much like the Amazon Vita/PS4 advertising fiasco, I believe that the Sony Corporation is paying off criminal elements to hijack and destroy shipments of Wii-U titles in order to slowly erode Nintendo's business. The simple explanation that Nintendo underestimated demand does not suffice. There is a conspiracy going on people, WAKE UP!!!!

terribledeli

#6

terribledeli said:

I place the blame the solely on the reverse vampires, in cooperation with the RAND corporation.

MAB

#7

MAB said:

Someone can have my pre-ordered Lego City that is waiting to be picked up at EB if they're really desperate... Downloads 4 Life baby ;)

PONGbyATARI

#9

PONGbyATARI said:

I tend not to download games that you can buy retail but I could see myself downloading MH3 if I could have not found it in stores. I do think the primary reason for the short supply is to spur download sales.

erv

#10

erv said:

I am rocking the downloads alright. But, only at cheaper or, at launch equal street prices.

I can find Assassins creed, batman and darksiders for 25 euros. 55 even at launch. Why should the eshop charge me 69...?

If they match the pricewatch prices within the range of 5 euros for a game, banzai - download it is.

AVahne

#11

AVahne said:

This same bull that they pulled with Fire Emblem Awakening. Lately it seems Nintendo has been wanting themselves to fail. First they refused to release some of their 1st party and their co-owned 2nd and 3rd party titles in America, now they're being repeatedly "hit" by all these stock shortages.
Sigh... If only the Wii U and especially the 3DS were region-free. Then when they prematurely semi-abandon those consoles in America (we all know they will) and only release one final Mario or Zelda, I would still be able to import and play games from Europe and Japan. But alas, Nintendo is backwards.

Bluezealand

#12

Bluezealand said:

Just to clear this up: MHT:U is widely available through mainland Europe. Only the UK is affected by the shortage.

PONGbyATARI

#13

PONGbyATARI said:

@MadAussieBloke I would download more titles if there was a discount. Most games I am going to resell at some point there are exceptions like MH3 and Lego City I would be fine with downloads of both.

rjejr

#14

rjejr said:

So, there was apology, was there an explanation? Somebody leave off a zero when ordering? Manufacturing delays? Shipping delays? I don't like apologies without an explanation, it makes it look like the company doesn't nkow how to fix whatever the problem was next time, to make sure there isn't a next time.

ivanmata

#15

ivanmata said:

I'm not liking the idea of forcing people to download games, this stock problem has occurred two times in a row now (I was affected with Fire Emblem Awakening). I think the majority of people still prefer physical copies.

th3r3ds0x

#16

th3r3ds0x said:

Im starting to think Nintendo is TRYING keep the Wii U back. I saw my first commercial for Lego City Undercover this morning on my son's cartoon channel. It was for the 3DS version! What is the deal with the almost total lack of advertising for Wii U? I had to explain to my 15 year old nephew this weekend that Wii U was a new console and not an addon. When I told him about Wind Waker coming out this fall he got excited. Nintendo you're killing me, and yourself as well!

Wildfire

#17

Wildfire said:

When I went to my usual GAME store to pick up Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate I found hard to believe that they were only having one single copy of the game. Thankfully I was the one who ended up getting it, but on the next week ,the exact same thing with Lego City Undercover!
What the hell are they thinking?!

GiftedGimp

#18

GiftedGimp said:

NFSMW was also in short supply, Many people asking if others new where they could find a copy in stock on miiverse and various forums.
Nintendo obviously not responsible for distribution, but begs the question, was there somesort of distribution problem outside of Nintendo's control.
From manufacture game discs will be sent to only a few distribution centers in each region which are responsible for distribution to smaller more localized distribution centers, who then send games on to retailers or retialers own distribution offices who then divide stock between their stores with reserves for online purchasing.
Its quite a complex process, and although normaly works without hitch from time to time problems can surface.

FritzFrapp

#19

FritzFrapp said:

And the digital releases cost only £39.99 for 3DS and £49.99 for Wii U. What a bargain!
I cannot believe anyone who has filled out a Nintendo game survey has ever said that a game should retail at those figures. Halve them at least for a more accurate cost of what the public would be prepared to pay.
I got my physical copies double pack from Game for £65. Even that I think is too high for the average punter, though the game is exceptional and I was prepared to splash out in this instance.
Because MH is such a time-soak a download version is very attractive, but not at those prices. I double-dipped on Freedom Unite because the price of the digital version fell below a tenner.

Dreamcaster-X

#20

Dreamcaster-X said:

Yeah, there is something definitely funky with Nintendo's current software distribution lately. It's like someone is asleep at the wheel over there. Fire Emblem, Lego City, & Monster Hunter all back to back bad launches & all 3 high profile releases. Very strange indeed. Time for the Regginator to start smacking some people around. = )

V8_Ninja

#21

V8_Ninja said:

On the bright side, I guess this means that Nintendo is exceeding expectations? I mean, look at something like the new Tomb Raider; apparently shipping around 3.5 million within the first week wasn't good enough to be considered a success. If the demand exceeds the stock then Nintendo must be doing something right, even if that conclusion comes only with twisting some logic.

cornishlee

#23

cornishlee said:

Printing game discs is not like turning a tap on. Part of publishing and distributing a title involves estimating how many copies are going to be sold and ensuring that there are enough products manufactured to meet that demand without having too many left sitting unsold on shelves. In part, one of the factors involved in making that estimate is the level of orders from retailers. I'd suggest at least part of the reason for a supply shortage is retailers underestimating demand of the title based on a perceived low level of demand for Wii U games in the first quarter.

LavaTwilight

#24

LavaTwilight said:

I need a disc of a game to truly value it. In fact I hate that there's no real booklet anymore with games. I loved those things. Well either way MH3U is a game I'm wanting to get hold of but I have far too much to spend money on for it, and I'm still getting through Lego City and Luigi's Mansion 2! Good times!

ICHIkatakuri

#25

ICHIkatakuri said:

Is this not partially down to the fact that everyone in the world owned a wii and barely anyone bought the wii version outside Japan. I know it did okay, but this is the busiest it's ever been and it certainly wasn't a system seller, maybe they didn't expect such a rush with such a small install base?

Chomposaur

#27

Chomposaur said:

I pre-ordered my Monster Hunter / black 3ds XL in february and they said they only had one in stock that was mine in game .. and as for Wii U copies they only had 5 Lol

ivanmata

#28

ivanmata said:

@DESS-M-8, there are lots of people that just want the physical copy and like Thomas mentioned in the article, some people will not spend a lot of money on an external drive just to download a few games.

Ryno

#29

Ryno said:

@Thomas: Another great article. You manage to nail all the issues and the concerns of gamers every time. Nintendo would be wise to follow you on twitter.

DePapier

#30

DePapier said:

Wait... Are there still midnight launches for games? I'm quite sure those expecting them so much at midnight would just download them. Why bother getting dressed and going out so late?

Ralizah

#31

Ralizah said:

Nintendo should do something like PS+, where you pay a flat rate every year but get nice discounts on downloads and access to "free" games. If you're the sort of person who is primarily a Nintendo gamer, this could definitely be worth the cost of admission.

DePapier

#32

DePapier said:

Nintendo has some serious issues with retailers, actually some serious issues with everyone they're working with, as long as they are not financing them. When you even prevent your customers from giving you their money, something is clearly not right.

DESS-M-8

#34

DESS-M-8 said:

@ivanmata They would be wise to invest. A few games now, but over the next 5-7 years will turn into a big back catalogue.
Digital all the way, the only game I own physical is skylander giants for my little lad. Just waitin for black ops 2 to appear then I'll get that too. Comparatively price and £5 credit for every £50 spent?
Playing on the Gamepad, it's like my whole
Virtual console AND retail titles are ALL inside my magnificent control pad. The wii u really is the future. Every zelda and mario game ever made in the palm of my hand??? Yes please.
I have the Toshiba 2TB drive hooked up to my wii u since day one and have 7 full titles on it already, hasn't made a dent and I've got what would have been a pile of plastic and shelf space gone all as icons on my Gamepad.
Yes please.
Neither will I ever have to walk into a shop to buy my new favourite game and be told they have sold out. I'll be downloading it at midnight, overnight, every time and have it sat nicely on my wii u before the shop even opens.
Yes please

Dreamcaster-X

#35

Dreamcaster-X said:

@cornishlee Yes, I was thinking the same thing. Due to the lackluster Jan/Feb sales numbers they just may have not ordered enough which is silly given the drought. Nobody bought anything because nothing noteworthy was released. Hopefully they have corrected this for May as there are quite a few releases coming that month.

JavierYHL

#36

JavierYHL said:

i will this bundle but its region locked and i cant play my u.s games on it...sometimes nintendo region locked policy is a pain in the ass...

CasuallyDressedStaff

#37

CasuallyDressed said:

Both my local GAMEs (Preston) had a decent supply of both Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate and LEGO City Undercover. Unfortunately, they were asking £50 a pop.

They didn't even know NFS:MW was out for Wii U, haha.

ThumperUK

#38

ThumperUK said:

I do wonder whether Microsoft & Sony have infiltrated the Nintendo management team as it seems intent on doing as much as it can to make the WiiU a failure!

P.S. Where is Scribblenauts? (I've given up waiting for Pikmin 3 yet again)

idork99

#39

idork99 said:

From another perspective, I want to say Nintendo is playing it safe. The cost of a physical copy, the packaging, shipping, etc., cost more to the manufacturer compared to a digital download. And in a region where physical copies of game dissapear from the top 10 after a week since it's release, I would feel more secure sending limited copies as opposed to the extra copies of the game sitting in the shelves for months only to be sold at a small price from the discount bin. If anything, this is a good problem for Nintendo if they can act quickly. Perhaps this will be the last time we'll run into this sort of problem and Nintendo can manage to adequately supply the demands of the physical copies.

Side note: I want that all black 3DS XL packadged with MH3U! Sexy!

chibihobo

#40

chibihobo said:

I bought my copy of MH3U on the eShop after the one I ordered from ShopTo somehow has been lost in the post. Took about 3 hours to download and then 30 mins to install.

Nicest surprise was The Nintendo Network Premium, Spend £50? Here's a £5 gift card off your next purchase. (and I swear some of the loading screens are comically short)

I waited over a week for my copy to arrive and figured I'd rather spend this time ACTUALLY PLAYING THE GAME. So snapped it up on the eShop while ShopTo figure out it's lost and they need to give me a refund (it's now out of stock there)

DePapier

#41

DePapier said:

@th3r3ds0x

I'm actually starting to believe the same thing. I'm quite sure Nintendo is holding back the Wii U right now, and I would suspect the drought was planned in advance for the real games to launch alongside the next Xbox and the PS4...

DePapier

#42

DePapier said:

@idork99 Your point makes me understand why Nintendo games manage to keep their prices — and revenue — high longer than AAAs that end up being half-priced after half a year.

DePapier

#43

DePapier said:

@k8sMum I think that's how it truly is. They want us to download those games, and since the option is there, why bother with stock...

What am I saying: Shibata says so himself in part 3 of his apology!!!

But then, quite frankly, I believe if a gamer is so eager to play at launch, he should do so by downloading at midnight. Now that's rather harsh for the Wii U since you won't find 2TB drives for less than 100 bucks, but for the 3DS, seriously, a 32GB is less than 30 bucks and is more than enough. Sorry to say this but, time to get on with the times, if complaint needs be.

luminalace

#44

luminalace said:

I hope a pattern isn't emerging. Need For Speed Most Wanted U is facing similar issues in Australia with many EB Games stores out of stock. C'mon Nintendo, fix this!

TheXboxHero

#45

TheXboxHero said:

Dont focus on just downloading, focus ON BOTH retail and downloading. Lots of people still get retail games(such as me and lots of others here on NL) they need the appropiate amount of stock to satisfy both the retail "cravers" and the download "cravers".

BooJoh

#46

BooJoh said:

I don't believe this has anything to do with pushing downloads on consumers, as this same shortage also affected the Pikachu 3DS XL HARDWARE. Wal-Mart stores here in the US got both Lego City Undercover and the Pikachu XL while stores like Target and Amazon.com had no stock on launch day. I didn't notice or check with MH3U because I intended to buy both versions digitally anyway.

I don't know what's up with the shipping delays, but I don't think Nintendo is creating false shortages to promote digital games, and certainly not with a game that requires an external HDD even for premium system owners (Lego City Undercover.)

ghall

#49

ghall said:

I wouldn't mind Nintendo pushing eshop purchases, in fact I'd gladly buy all my games from the eshop, if they were tied to my nintendo network account and not my console. If anything happens I'm not only out a Wii U, but an entire game collection.
Of course wether Nintendo is actually deliberately causing shortages is up for debate.

WaxxyOne

#50

WaxxyOne said:

Without reading the above comments, I'm going to agree with the "at least 10 people" who have already pointed out that you don't have to worry about stock issues if you buy the game on the eShop, as I prefer to do.

This is not an attempt to "convert" anyone, just pointing out one advantage of the digital distribution model.

Pikachews

#51

Pikachews said:

Funny how no one realises stock is built based on retailer orders/demand...Nintendo try sell in, no one bites, less stock is produced, game sells well at retail, retailers have under-ordered, no stock to replenish, hence shortage.

gojiguy

#52

gojiguy said:

Nintendo has been using this tactic for years. it's to build up demand.

however in this case it also pushes consumers to buy the digital versions (which cut out the cost of manufacturing, generating more pure profit).

It's a sneaky-but-smart move.

Still wondering what the sales of MH3U are... The game i think pushed about 200K in japan last I checked.

QuickSilver88

#53

QuickSilver88 said:

This is likely limited to some markets but not a big problem here in the midwest of good ole USA. I live in a mid-sized cit but have like 3 gamestops, mejiers, target, walmart, and best buy all within reach. So I have seen copies off all 3 March titles in stock. i was shocked that Lego came out for 49.99 US retail because it is a major release in a dry market. I do think retail orders are a factor, but I for one prefer har copies as I am a collector and I also like to give games to friends and family. I am sure devs and Nintendo love digital as no used and no middle man cut but retailers need incentive to or they won't want to give shelf space to consoles and accesories!

GiftedGimp

#54

GiftedGimp said:

Its worth remembering if your using the internal memory, its so slow to write to, anyone with a HDD can verify this, move a download to the internal memory then back to the HDD, although The eStore isn't the quickest to download from, downoading to a hdd is quicker.
Even if you tend to buy discs its probably worth buying a small, even as low as 160gig hdd just for situations like this.

sinalefa

#56

sinalefa said:

I had no problems getting Undercover in Amazon, and I don't care about Monster Hunter.

And I am not getting digital games. I just lent my Bioshock copy to a friend, I cannot do that with digital copies. And digital is not worldwide either, as retail is.

SneakyStyle

#58

SneakyStyle said:

I'd have to agree that it was all part of a plan to push more digital sales, BUT maybe it wasn't only that, but it was surveys of recent digital vs disc sales that were already a bit wrong from the previous disc shortage that initially pushed the digital sales up.

Noend

#59

Noend said:

I believe its solely to push digital.

The tied to the system eshops are the biggest f u to customers of any digital game seller there is or ever will be.

Jukilum

#61

Jukilum said:

@Pikachews I don't think it is the fault of retailers when they announce ahead of time that they will be getting their stock late.

GreenDream

#62

GreenDream said:

If we all remember Nintendo's history of stock management, this tactic dates back to the 80's. Only produce just enough stock to ensure they all sell out, then produce more if/when there is demand and clamoring for more. It's a classic tactic to prevent cases of overabundance, there is nothing to apologize for.

...EXCEPT FOR THAT BLACK 3DS XL I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR NOT BEING RELEASED IN USA.

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