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Nintendo Delays U.S. Gamecube Launch Until Nov. 18

23 Aug, 2001 By: John Gaudiosi

Rather than beating Microsoft’s Xbox to store shelves on Nov. 5, Nintendo’s $199 next-generation GameCube video game system won’t ship in the U.S. until Nov. 18. The two-week delay is to ensure a smooth rollout.

Nintendo has promised 700,000 units at launch and a total of 1.1 million units by Dec. 31. The U.S. launch of GameCube will be backed by a $75 million marketing campaign.

"Our industry has learned the dangers of arriving at a launch party without enough gifts," explains Peter Main, executive v.p., sales and marketing, Nintendo of America Inc. "By increasing our day one shipments to almost three-quarters of a million, we not only should come close to meeting total demand at launch, but also assure a virtually uninterrupted restocking through the holiday season."

“This is no big deal,” says James Lin, managing director & Senior Analyst at Jefferies and Co. “Both Nintendo and Microsoft realize what sort of PR nightmare Sony brought about last year when it stuck with its date but halved its shipments. I think consumers would prefer to wait two weeks and have a larger supply of Gamecubes.”

“The Game Boy Advance consumers that are waiting to buy GameCube will still be there 14 days later,” says P.J. McNealy, senior analyst for Gartner G2. “There’s still plenty of time for retailers to get their shelves stocked before the big holiday rush.”

“The new launch date is still early enough for holiday shoppers to pick up GameCube, and Nintendo’s increasing the amount of units available at launch, so it’s a positive move,” says Jeff Griffiths, president and c.e.o. of Electronics Boutique, one of the leading video game specialty retailers.

Nintendo said that this delay would not impact its target of 4 million hardware units shipped by March 31, 2002. Current monthly production output is 600,000 units. Nintendo hopes to increase that to one million units per month early next year.

GameCube will be available in two colors, Indigo and Jet Black; and controllers will be available in four colors, indigo, indigo/transparent configuration, jet black and spice orange.

On the software side, GameCube will release 17 games by year’s end, which will retail for $49.95. Nintendo’s first-party launch titles include Luigi’s Mansion, Wave Race: Blue Storm and Pikmin. Nintendo will ship Super Smash Bros. Melee and Eternal Darkness Dec. 3, NBA Courtside 2002 in January 2002, Star Fox Adventures: Dinosaur Planet in the first quarter of 2002 and The Legend of Zelda, Sunshine Mario and a new Pokemon game will ship later in 2002.

Nintendo will debut its Game Boy Advance/GameCube cross-platform functionality in the U.S. next year with a game that allows players to transfer data between the systems. GBA can also serve as a controller for the GameCube system.

A dozen third-party games are slated for the launch window. LucasArts’ Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader is a launch title. Acclaim will bring All-Star Baseball 2002, Dave Mirra Freestyle BMX 2, Extreme G3, NFL Quarterback Club 2002 and Crazy Taxi to GameCube. Electronic Arts has FIFA Soccer 2002, Madden NFL 2002 and SSX Tricky. Midway will bring its extreme sports franchises NFL Blitz 2002 and NHL Hitz 2002 to Nintendo’s new system.

In addition to shipping Super Monkey Ball for GameCube this year, Sega announced that Sonic Adventure 2, Virtua Striker 3 Ver. 2002 and Phantasy Star Online, which is expected to be the first online game for Nintendo’s new system, were in development for GameCube.

Nintendo plans to launch GameCube in Japan Sept. 14 with an initial shipment of 500,000, going head-to-head with frontrunner Sony Corp's PlayStation 2 and fresh entrant Xbox, due to go on sale in autumn.

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