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Nintendo recently announced at Space World that the highly anticipated launch of their GameCube console in North America would be delayed until Sunday, November 18th. Moments after news of GameCube’s delay made it across the wires, Nintendo Co Ltd’s stock declined sharply and gamers across the Internet expressed their strong feelings on the subject. After some time to consider the situation, we offer this collection of known facts and evaluation of the delay.

GameCube’s recent delay provides time for Nintendo to deliver 700,000 systems on launch day - nearly a quarter more than expected for the original November 5th launch. Software availability will also be improved. Existing sales forecasts of 1.1 million units sold in North America by year’s end have been reaffirmed. Peter Caruso, a Merrill Lynch VP commented, "It is not a case of sales being lost during the quarter."

Senior VP of Marketing and Corporate Communications for Nintendo of America, George Harrison explained Nintendo’s reasoning to Reuters, “We looked at the available quantity that we had… we felt that it's more important to have sufficient quantity for Thanksgiving weekend and we thought that was a better day to go on sale.”

Further commenting on Nintendo’s move, Peter Main, NOA's Executive VP of Sales and Marketing explained, “Our industry has learned the dangers of arriving at a launch party without enough gifts.” Referring to Sony's PlayStation 2 launch. Console launches are an incredible source of free press and Sony even benefited from this for a short while as images of crowded retail stores and stories of $1,000 PS2s on eBay filled the news. However, the great lack in supply backfired just weeks later when the company was swamped in bad press. Nintendo stands to profit from the massive launch with free news coverage that money cannot buy. Peter Main coined the phrase, “GameCube Sunday in America."

Delayed ## Days?

Though this development could be Nintendo attempting to a shine a light on the GameCube delay, it now seems as though November 5th was never intended to be the true launch date of Nintendo GameCube. According to statements by the company, November 5th was only the ship date for the system in North America. The "street date" (when systems become available at retailers) was intended to take place on the 8th or 9th of November. In contrast, the current November 18th launch date is in fact the street date as well - making the actual delay only nine days. Nintendo’s GameCube should begin arriving at retailers on November 15th.

Financial Analysis

As Nintendo made waves in the media with Space World 2001, Nintendo Co Ltd's stock was dropping in Japanese trading. The stock ended down 880 yen or 4.55% minutes after the news of GameCube’s delay was released. This just days after being punished by the yen’s sudden appreciation against the dollar. The rash reaction of investors was much like that of Nintendo fans jumping to judgment. The financial community soon commented on the delay and the stock climbed 3.68%.

The delayed ship date, “really doesn't mean anything,” said Mike Wallace, an analyst at UBS Warburg, in an interview. “The initial ship is before Thanksgiving, that's all that really matters.” Heath Terry, an analyst at Credit Suisse First Boston upped the anti, commenting, “Even if it comes out on Dec. 24, they'll still sell 1.1 million units on Dec. 24.” Such reports from the financial community were enough to help Nintendo Co Ltd. recover on day one of Space World.

The XBOX Launch

Is an XBOX delay soon to come? “Basically, we're not concerning ourselves with their launch date,” was the reaction of Microsoft spokesman, James Bernard. However, news that Microsoft is currently not as far along with XBOX hardware and software production as they would have liked to be for the November 8th launch coupled with GameCube’s delay makes the possibility of at least a one week XBOX delay very plausible.

If Microsoft doesn’t delay XBOX and GameCube launches upward of ten days later, could that affect GameCube sales? Not in any significant manner is the answer. GameCube marketing will have been in full force for weeks by that time and any gamers that have decided to purchase a sell-out GameCube launch unit would likely not sway in their decision. Peter Main noted during Nintendo’s teleconference that Nintendo 64 launched a full year after Sony’s PlayStation and still managed to initially surpass Sony’s console in installed base for a period of time. A few days difference in launch will not impact sales.

As stated above, free press coverage is very important to game console manufacturers. Nintendo does not want to share headlines with Microsoft come launch day. The good chance that American media will center their Thanksgiving week retail stories on Nintendo alone, may well help improve long term sales.

Retailers & Consumers

It’s been established that the delay in no significant way would harm the gaming company. In fact, from a variety of perspectives, positives can be found. The remaining question is how the general gaming public and retailers will be affected.

One of the largest toy retailers in North America, Toys R Us has publicly commended Nintendo’s move. "We strongly applaud Nintendo's move to reduce the anxiety of customers who can't find the video game products they want," says Wayne Yodzio, Vice President, Divisional Merchandise Manager, Toys R Us, Inc. I contacted smaller retailers for comment so the voice of the industry is not restricted to TRU… hopefully, I’ll edit in their comments in soon.

From the consumer perspective, we know many Nintendo fans are outraged by the story while others are not bothered in the least. As word of the delay's intricate details and actual day count make it out to the gaming community, GameCubicle expects the discontent to disappear.

July 25, 2001

Rick - Editor in Chief, GameCubicle is an independent site and is in no way associated with Nintendo Co. Ltd. or NOA
Nintendo's official GameCube site can be found at

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