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GameCube’s European Greeting

by Karlie Yeung - November 9, 2001, 10:01 am EST

With only Game Boy Advance until next Spring in Europe, can the GameCube successfully take away some of Playstation 2’s dominance?

With the US launch closer than ever, European gamers wait for Nintendo’s promise of a release date for the precious machine. Nothing has been revealed further than “Spring 2002” and will not be for a while to come.

A while ago there were rumours flying around that the GameCube will not be released until September of 2002. This was an attempt to explain Nintendo of Europe’s reluctance to provide a more specific timeframe and also to pressurise Nintendo of Europe into revealing the release. There have been no further details concerning this issue aside from the ever popular “Spring 2002” date.

Interestingly, Nintendo of New Zealand’s website came up with a document giving launch details. With New Zealand and Australia being PAL territories this information would be of interest to a gamer in wait of a European release date. In the past, Nintendo’s subsidiaries have been variable in reliability. Metroid announcements are in favour for Nintendo France while it was Nintendo Sweden who insisted that Star Cube was the name of Nintendo’s next console. NOZ’s site is for distributors as only product and availability information is available. This would contribute to the validity of the information. A curious observation is that Kameo is listed as a launch title and the date “March 2002” in a prominent position. Could this be leaked information in order to convince those who doubt that the GameCube will indeed launch next Spring?

In the UK, the price of the Playstation has dropped to £199.99. This has caused demand to rise by 25 per cent. For now, the Playstation is the only console in the race and will no doubt gain a lot more consumers over the Christmas period being the only console truly existent.

The GameCube is expected to cost between £179 and £199 at launch. Cheaper console? Not over here. Many, many people chose PSX over N64 due to the lower price. The machine was £250 at launch when PSX cost £120. The N64 cartridges also cost around a third more than the Playstation games did. A lot of SNES owners chose the Playstation for this reason. Although knowing the quality of games that they had grown to expect would be on N64, £50 per game was not a feasible option.

It is difficult to judge the success of the N64 launch. The console sold out on the first day but there weren’t exactly a large number of machines available. As for the games, a memorable early title is Wave Race 64 with a less than high quality PAL conversion that suffered from a rather choppy frame rate. Under a month later the price was dropped to £150, which greatly annoyed early adopters of the console.

The Game Boy Advance was released to instant appeal and grand sales figures. Retailers marking up the cost of the handheld by up to £20 did not adversely affect sales. Reasons for this include the reputation and of the previous Game Boy systems and highly successful marketing. Print and television advertisements unique to the UK were remarkably entertaining and geared towards an older audience than traditionally.

Nintendo have some catching up to if they want their presence noticed in Europe. X-Box’s date has already been announced for March 14th and Playstation 2’s head start is not going to be easy to chase. Advertising to rival that of at least Sony’s obscure advertisements is going to be needed to win back old SNES gamers and undo some of the damage that the N64 created. The Game Boy Advance’s marketing schemes are a good start. The website for the UK is the gameboyadvance.co.uk page, there is no main Nintendo page in the UK, only the German NOE website even now when Nintendo UK has been formed.

There is a lot of work to be done in order to win back the European market, can Nintendo succeed with the conditions they are having to face at entry? Pokemon has helped Nintendo last through these times but the craze cannot be endless. To survive in the next generation a lot of work will be needed to put late release dates, poor advertisement and other damage to the N64’s in the past and to wow gamers old and new with what the GameCube has to offer.

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