This morning, I was invited to attend a Nintendo conference call hosted by George Harrison. Here, they announced that beginning tomorrow, 9/25/2003, Nintendo will drop the price of the GameCube from $149.99 to $99.99. This is a signal to everyone that Nintendo is serious about winning this console generation and shows that the GameCube is ready to go mass market. Also, this will make it easy for all consumers to buy an additional console as it reaches this consumer-friendly price point. Without question, at this price the Nintendo GameCube is the best value in the gaming industry.

In Japanese related news, GameCube sales have been equal to that of Sony this year in Japan because of the release of Tales of Symphonia. This title is due for release in the US in the future. However, a release date hasn’t been set in the US yet. I personally can’t wait to get my hands on this one though.

To help try and answer about lack Nintendo of Third Party Sales, Nintendo pointed to Namco’s Soul Calibur II. The GameCube version of this title, staring Link, has outsold the competing versions. In fact, it has outsold the PS2 version 3 to 1. This is amazing when you look at how large the installed base of the PS2 is. Nintendo would not comment on the sales of any other Third Party title and George Harrison did not give any other examples.

Moving over to the GBA, this system is the hottest selling item in the world. Between launch day and now, it has outsold the PlayStation 2. Over the last six months, it has outsold the PS2 by over fifty percent! Some will be quick to label it as a kids machine. Surprisingly, Nintendo agrees that this is true. It is a machine kids love and Nintendo will continue to feed them games like Pokemon to feed their craze. However, while the installed base is fifty-five percent under the age of eighteen, the GBA SP has caused many users to buy a new system. With forty-five percent over the age of eighteen, Nintendo will continue to provide players with an experience they will enjoy on the system. A good example of a title for an older player is the recently released Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. Only available since 9/10/2003, it has already sold 150,000 copies. Quite impressive for a mature GBA title that is supposed to only have little kids playing it. Later this year, Nintendo will release versions of Fire Emblem and Mario and Luigi on the GBA. Both of these titles are RPGs and will appeal to an older gamer as well.

On the software side for the GameCube, Nintendo will be releasing Mario Party 5 and 1080 Avalanche. However, their prized title this holiday season will be released on November 17. On this day, Mario Kart Double Dash will release and Nintendo is projected that this will be the best selling title of the year. That is quite a statement especially since they have already released the latest installment of Zelda earlier this year.

Speaking of the end of the year, when 2003 comes to a close, the GameCube will have a library of 320 titles. This is a very impressive lineup of titles for a console that a lot of people have written off.

A few questions came up during the press conference. Some people were concerned that Nintendo was going to create a problem at retail with both the GameCube and Game Boy Advance SP at the $99.99 price point. However, George Harrison quickly put to rest any concerns there might be by pointing out that a consumer could buy both a GBA SP and GCN for the price of a PS2 console!

Callers also wondered if Nintendo planned to revise the number of Game Boy Advance SP or GameCube units they were planning on selling. Nintendo said that despite the popularity in the GBA SP and the price drop for the GameCube, they were not ready to revise these numbers at this time.

Another caller asked about a similar price drop in Japan. Harrison pointed out that these price drops would be decided upon by each region and that he was not aware of any move Japan may make right now. However, this could change at any moment and Nintendo of Japan may announce a similar price drop for their market soon.

Nintendo would not comment on if they feel this price drop will make sales of the GameCube increase dramatically. The hinted that they would address this issue at a later time but were not interested in discussing it with several different callers asking questions on our conference call. However, despite a comment on this from the “Big N,” one thing is for certain… why would a consumer shopping for a new game system buy anything other than a GameCube? Instead of buying a new PS2 or Xbox, players can spend roughly the same amount of money and buy a GameCube, two new games, and a bargain bin classic like Eternal Darkness. This is a tremendous value!

While I try to stay as objective as possible, I really love the First Party Titles from Nintendo. That said, I still have some serious doubts about their Third Party Lineup. But at a hundred bucks, can any gamer pass this up? If you don’t already have a Cube, do yourself a favor and pick one up starting tomorrow, 9/25/2003. Put down your hundred bucks and just start with Eternal Darkness. (Eternal Darkness was our pick for Best GameCube game of 2002) You can find a copy of ED for around fifteen bucks. After you see the kind of quality that can be found on the GameCube, you will quickly come back to your local retailer and pick up copies of Animal Crossing, Mario Golf, Metroid Prime, Super Mario Sunshine, F-Zero, Soul Calibur II, Zelda, and many more.

The $99 GameCube is the best value in the gaming industry and it has enough great games to keep you busy for a long time.

By Kaleb Rutherford – 09/24/03

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