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GameCube Beats Xbox at Launch

22 Nov, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

While most retailers sold out of all Xbox and GameCube hardware the day of launch, Nintendo shipped more product to stores (700,000 GameCubes, according to Nintendo, verses approximately 300,000 Xboxes) and sold out of its stock quicker, according to various retail sources.

Combined U.S. retail revenues for GameCube hardware, software and accessories reached more than $98 million in just its first single day of availability on Sunday, Nov. 18, Nintendo reports. This makes GameCube the top video game system launch of 2001, with initial hardware sales doubling those of Xbox and besting Nintendo's successful June launch of Game Boy Advance. Nintendo initially said it would ship 1.1 million GameCubes to retailers by Christmas. This week the company said it will increase its GameCube production by 200,000 and ship 1.3 million GameCube hardware units by Christmas. The company has been stockpiling systems since October and has plenty of stock to ship to retail every week.

According to Nintendo, the top-selling opening day software titles (in order) were Nintendo's Luigi's Mansion, LucasArts' Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader and Nintendo's Wave Race: Blue Storm.

"Some 700,000 GameCube hardware systems moved to retail locations in time for our launch, our largest first day supply ever," says Peter Main, executive v.p. of sales and marketing at Nintendo of America. "But right now it appears that none of them may be left by this weekend."

“GameCube is the most exciting new entrant in the video game sector,” says Joseph Spiegel of Spinner Asset Management. “Its lineup of exclusive software titles is fun and unique, and with a price tag $100 less than its competitors GameCube is particularly attractive in the current economy. Consumers, whether 28 years old or the parents of an 8-year-old, can buy a system and two great games for less than the price of the competitions' hardware.”

There were no signs in the United States of the lackluster sales that GameCube had in Japan. The U.S. launch had more games available and included LucasArts' Star Wars game, which has been praised by the gaming and mainstream press as one of the best video game experiences ever made.

Blockbuster Inc., which is renting both Xbox and GameCube, at selected locations, latched onto the hype by offering consumers who purchased new systems a free five-day video game rental. The offer is good from Dec. 1-Jan. 31.Hollywood Video stores also are renting new systems and software.

“Both the GameCube and Xbox launches were very successful,” says Jeff Griffiths, president of Electronics Boutique, a specialty video game retailer with 790 stores worldwide. “Customer reaction has been extremely positive. We quickly sold through our initial allocations for both systems. The launches were much smoother than the PS2 launch last year due to the reduced quantities of PS2 at launch.”

Nintendo is fining those retailers that jumped the gun and began selling GameCubes on Nov. 16. A Kmart in Pinole, Calif., was selling GameCubes to customers looking for the sold-out Xbox on Nov. 17. Individual retail chains throughout the nation were reportedly selling GameCubes early. Despite the early jump in sales, the sheer number of Xbox and GameCubes shipping this year will make these hot new systems a bit more plentiful than PS2 was last year.

“It will be easier to get an Xbox or GameCube this year than it was a PS2 last year because both Microsoft and Nintendo are at full strength manufacturing the hardware, whereas Sony had continued problems with manufacturing of PS2 last year,” says James Lin, managing director and senior analyst, Jefferies and Co. “While there won't be as much Xbox and GameCube hardware on store shelves as the abundant PS2 hardware today, it won't be impossible to find these new consoles.”

The successful GameCube launch will only help Nintendo of Japan, the world's second-largest video game maker, which has already beat its May financial forecast of a $244.2 million group net profit by around 15%. Strong sales of Game Boy Advance hardware, Game Boy Color games and Pokemon games have helped Nintendo offset the slack sales of GBA software. A weaker yen and falling prices of key hardware components like liquid crystal displays and semiconductors also played into Nintendo's profit.

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