The Q looks and feels like a home entertainment system, while also allowing the owner to play GameCube games. As a result, it should prove popular among the 18-25 year olds who have driven sales of Sony’s PlayStation. The device is the result of a 1999 agreement between Matsushita and Nintendo – and may not be their last GameCube-related product.
Matsushita has launched its GameCube-based home entertainment system, the Q.
Japanese electronics giant Matsushita has finally launched the Q – its own version of Nintendo’s GameCube, which also allows CD, DVD and VCD playback. First shown at the E3 show in 2001, it is now on sale in Japan for $300.
Back in 1999, Nintendo realized that it needed a cheaper storage medium than traditional cartridges if its new GameCube console was to compete with Sony’s Playstation – so it signed a deal with Matsushita to develop a proprietary three inch DVD disk and exchange related technology.
The Q fits both companies’ interests. Nintendo has often been accused of focusing too much on the children’s market, while ignoring the 18-25 year old market that Sony has cashed in on. The Q offers next generation gaming with a design to appeal to the older market. For Matsushita, it is the perfect entry-level home entertainment device, introducing young consumers to its range of products.
Nintendo will also benefit from the extra games software sales that Q sales will generate. Admittedly, it will gain less from sales of Q units than from GameCube sales, but at least the alliance shows that a company without the muscle of Sony or Microsoft can expand its market beyond its traditional audience.
Matsushita is taking full advantage of the 1999 deal: the Q may be the first in a range of GameCube-based products. In particular, the Matsushita/Nintendo deal also included options concerning digital network related products and services. When the GameCube eventually explores an online or multiplayer presence, it may well be hand-in-hand with Matsushita.
There are risks attached to the multi-device strategy. If there were too many such devices on the market, consumers would be confused by the mixed messages and branding. Q users are also likely to buy much less software than traditional GameCube owners, curtailing the potential of extending the GameCube user base.
However, the technology-focused Japanese market is sure to enjoy this small, fashionable and functional device from two much-loved companies.