After a rough start in 2003, Nintendo’s struggling next-gen contender worked up enough momentum to become the best-selling home console of holiday season ’03—thanks to a flurry of high-profile releases and a crucial price drop to $99. To date, Nintendo has sold 6.8 million Cubes in the United States, but the system’s increase in sales over the previous year has Nintendo saying that it is No. 2.
“One of us had to be No. 3, and it’s not us,” says Nintendo Vice President of Corporate Affairs Perrin Kaplan. “We finally have a library of the right games, the right hardware, at the right price.”
But even being in second place doesn’t solve all of GameCube’s problems. Third-party support for the console has dropped off significantly and shows no signs of picking back up. This leaves major releases up to Nintendo and a handful of Japanese developers who are still supporting the system.
In 2003 Nintendo began to support its own network adapter by network-enabling a few titles (but to mixed results). Just recently, GameCube got its second online game—Phantasy Star Online Episode III, sequel to the system’s first Net-enabled title. But Nintendo still contends that it will not implement an online plan until such a venture can make money. Meanwhile, expect GC-to-GBA—or even GC-to-DS (see our lead news story)—connectivity to remain what Nintendo chooses to push in lieu of more online games.
While rumors indicate that the GameCube’s successor is in the works, we may not end up hearing much—if anything—about it this year. “I don’t think you’re going to see people who bought a [GameCube] in 2003 be anything but happy,” Kaplan tells us.
That doesn’t seem too far from the truth, as we already know of more than a dozen high-profile Cube releases on the horizon—many of which were announced at last year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo videogame show. Not the least of these are new titles in Nintendo’s three key series: Zelda, Mario, and Metroid.
The bad news if you own a Cube is that you may miss out on a lot of multiplatform titles, but this lack of third-party support won’t spell the kind of doom it would on other systems, thanks to the sheer number of great games Nintendo itself produces.
Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Electronic Gaming Monthly.