Nintendo has no plans to hang up its joypad. That’s the news from Nintendo of America’s VP of sales and marketing Peter MacDougall, who has told critics that Nintendo will remain a platform holder in both the handheld and living room arenas for the foreseeable future, with work on successors to both GBA and GameCube already underway.
Despite no official statements to date, many have been predicting that GameCube would be Nintendo’s final home console; that the publisher planned to drop its home hardware division in favouring of concentrating on GameBoy Advance and software sales on other platforms.
But MacDougall’s monologue last Thursday confirms that Nintendo is in it for the long run. Bucking the recent trend of Nintendo execs to host lavish press engagements and then announce absolutely nothing, MacDougall’s speech at the Gerard Klauer Mattison Conference in New York (the same arena from whence EB’s Jeff Griffiths commented on Vice City one-day sales) was a serious piece of company propaganda.
Nintendo is in the software business to stay. Nintendo is in the handheld business to stay. And Nintendo is most certainly in the home console business to stay, MacDougall commented. And though his speech did turn to the issue of promoting Metroid Prime heavily in the run-up to Christmas, he confirmed what most Nintendo fans have wanted to hear for the last six months: Work is well under way on the successor technology to both GameBoy Advance and Nintendo GameCube.
Indeed, if recent reports are to be believed, a backlit successor to GBA with a larger screen and improved functionality is on the very verge of release. What does that say about a successor to GameCube?
In the short term (which was the point of MacDougall’s speech, we fancy), Nintendo is moving to connect with older gamers. The new platinum GameCube (launched in the presence of celebrities including Chrstina Aguilera) is expected to improve sales to older gamers, while 3.5 million DVDs with more than 80 minutes of gameplay will also be distributed. Nintendo is also sponsoring the USSA Snowboarding Grand Prix, running promotional partnerships with companies like Heineken (perhaps in deference to Microsoft’s US Budweiser deal) and conducting numerous out-of-home programmes. Chief amongst these efforts though will be the proliferation of Nintendo Cube Clubs in urban storefronts in 15 cities.