GameCube launch rounds out console troika

Nintendo's latest gaming unit, GameCube, the third games console to launch in Australia in 18 months, hit store shelves on Friday.

While retailers such as Grace Bros/Myer opted against midnight launches like those staged for the Xbox or PlayStation 2 (PS2) representatives expected first day sales figures for GameCube to be positive, and compare favourably with both consoles.

Nintendo's David Yarnton said that due to unprecedented demand, the company predicted "severe shortages of consoles across the country" on launch day.

According to Nintendo, over 10,000 consoles had already been pre-ordered in Australia prior to the launch. The company said it expected to sell more than 200,000 units in Australia in 2002.

At $329, the GameCube is the cheapest of the three newer consoles currently vying for a place in Australian lounge rooms.

Originally tagged at $399, Nintendo decided to drop the recommended retail price of the GameCube three weeks before its launch in Australia. This decision came after Microsoft announced its plan to reduce the Xbox price from $649 to $399. The PS2, which launched in November 2000, is currently the most expensive console at $499.

Unlike the Xbox or PS2 units, which boast of entertainment features such as DVD capability, the GameCube has been designed specifically as a dedicated gaming machine.

Sony Computer Entertainment Australia managing director Michael Ephraim welcomed the GameCube into the market, saying the product would be complimentary rather than competitive with the PS2 and Xbox.

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Nadia Cameron

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