The GameCube will be the last next-generation console to launch in Europe, following March’s Xbox launch and the PS2 launch in 2000. In theory, this should give it the most difficulty in gathering a large user base. However, its low price – and the leverage granted by Nintendo’s dominance in handheld consoles – will go a long way to offsetting this problem.
Nintendo has announced that its new GameCube will go on sale in Europe for E249 on May 3.
On May 3, Japan’s Nintendo will launch its GameCube console in Europe. This will give the unit global coverage, although the launch comes after archrivals Xbox and Playstation 2.
Nintendo has done extremely well with its Game Boy and Game Boy Advance handheld range, but its future in the home console market is uncertain. For a start, launching last means that a lot of potential GameCube owners will already have a console
In addition, Nintendo is far weaker financially than Sony or Microsoft. A war of wallets would likely force it to limp back to handhelds. This lack of financial muscle, combined with the bad experiences some publishers had with Nintendo’s last home console, may deter potential GameCube developers.
However, Nintendo has addressed many of these problems. While the Xbox is targeted at serious games enthusiasts, and the PS2 is as much about DVD playback as games, the GameCube sits squarely in the entertainment category. Its low E249 price point should attract Europeans: it is around half that of the Xbox. Barring a last-minute Sony price cut, it is also around E50 below the PS2.
Lower prices also make the GameCube a likelier choice of second console than its rivals. Two-console ownership is steadily on the rise, so is likely to represent a significant market for Nintendo in coming years.
Nintendo has also done much to rebuild publishers and developer confidence, as many developers have made substantial sums from the Game Boy and GBA. Since the GameCube interoperates with the GBA, developers will consider extending their range to the GameCube to take advantage of this synergy. This should quickly extend Nintendo’s software range, boosting consumer enthusiasm for the platform.
For certain, the winners and losers of the console wars will not be declared this year, or possibly even next. The PS2 continues to sell well, and the US launch of the Xbox and GameCube showed that there is strong demand for all platforms at the moment.