December 9, 2004 9:37 AM PST

Nintendo ups shipments of DS game console

Video game systems maker Nintendo plans to increase North American shipments of its popular DS handheld by 40 percent to address a shortage of the devices.

The company said Thursday that it now plans to ship approximately 1.4 million of the portable game consoles to North America by the end of 2004. Nintendo's initial consignment of 500,000 DS units for the region was almost completely sold out just a week after the handheld was launched Nov. 21.

Nintendo said that North American retail sales of the DS have already crested the 700,000-unit mark. The company said sales of the device in Japan have exceeded 500,000 units less than one week after the game system's introduction there on Dec. 2.

"Nintendo is doing everything it can to make Nintendo DS attainable for the holidays," George Harrison, senior vice president of marketing at Nintendo of America, said in a statement. "The enthusiastic response from shoppers has made Nintendo DS a 'must have,' and we're determined to make it a 'will have."

The announcement comes during the heart of the holiday shopping season, typically the best period for video game system sales during the calendar year. Nintendo expects to sell 5 million DS units worldwide by March 31, the end of its fiscal year. The company was forced to open an additional factory in order to meet advance demand for the machines in Japan.

In the wake of the perceived DS shortage, some retailers--including vendors working under Amazon.com's Marketplace partners program--cashed in on the limited supply of the devices by marking the game system up by as much as $100 over its $150 price tag.

The DS' impressive debut is considered likely to have given Nintendo an even bigger lead over Sony, which is set to enter the handheld game market later this month with the PlayStation Portable. Sony executives recently confirmed reports of PSP inventory issues, saying that only 200,000 units will be available when the machine goes on sale in Japan on Dec. 12.

CNET News.com's David Becker contributed to this report.

 

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