Nintendo puts off GameCube launch

Shipment of Nintendo‘s GameCube consoles has been delayed by 10 days in order to adequately supply the North American market, the company announced from its Space World conference in Tokyo on Thursday.

The original ship date of Nov. 5 has been moved to Nov. 15, putting the consoles on store shelves by Sun. Nov. 18. The GameCube supply will be increased by 25 per cent as a result, said Peter Main, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Nintendo of America Inc. Initial North American shipments will now hit 700,000, 75,000 of which will reach Canada. By the end of 2001, 1.1 million will be delivered across the continent.

Main said Nintendo wanted to circumvent supply shortages which made Sony PlayStation 2 consoles such a rare commodity during last year’s holiday shopping season. “Our primary reason for doing this is to iron out what was now promising to be the first wrinkle in the supply pipeline had we adhered to our previous ship date,” he explained.

Orders for the GameCube product have already exceeded the initial North American shipment of 500,000 units, added Ron Bertram, director of communications forVancouver-based Nintendo of Canada Ltd. “It allows us to build up the inventory and launch with more over a shorter period of time, which makes our retailers happy and should make our consumers happy, too,” he said.

The shipping delay has cost Nintendo the first-to-market race with rival console the Xbox from Microsoft, which will launch in North America on Nov. 8, but Main dismissed criticism that Nintendo may have given its rival the upper hand. “This question of a week or two weeks at this time of year is immaterial,” he said.

Main also detailed some of the features consumers can expect from the GameCube come November. Nintendo has drawn much of its strength from its domination of the handheld gaming market through GameBoy and more recently GameBoy Advance. The latter can patch into the GameCube via a cord and may become an integral part of play.

“The GameBoy Advance can actually appear to be a physical extension of the TV screen itself,” said Main. “If a character disappears from the game on your TV screen — top, down, left or right — it can in fact fall onto your GameBoy Advance.”

Second and third party game developers will play a larger role in this iteration of Nintendo consoles and will account for approximately 75 per cent of all GameCube titles. “There’s no question that during the Nintendo 64 years, despite great first party successes, there simply wasn’t enough third party support to continuously satisfy all gameplay tastes,” said Main.

Promotional campaigns for the console will be kicking off in October and November, including a 12-city American tour, television and movie theatre advertising and in-store promotions. Most advertising will be uniform across North America, said Bertram, though there will be some differences for Canada. The 12-city tour won’t include Canada, though a similar campaign is in the works and will be announced in a few weeks. “Our objective is to reach as many Canadians as possible and we’ve designed a program that (will be available) in all in the major cities in Canada,” said Bertram.

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