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Six Reasons for GameCube Success...or Failure
Written By: Jared Black

The GameCube is seen by many as Nintendo's chance at redemption. This is Nintendo's chance to right all the wrongs they committed with the N64, and for the most part Nintendo looks like they're going to do just that. But will it be enough? The competition is fiercer than it's ever been…can Nintendo survive the next console war?

As with any system before its launch, no one can really know for sure how successful the GameCube will ultimately be. Without question, there are visible flaws in Nintendo's plans with the GameCube...but there is also a lot to like about the way Nintendo is handling the 'Cube. With this in mind, I've decided to play devil's advocate and present to you the six main reasons why the GameCube will ultimately be a failure, as well as the six main reasons why the GameCube will be a success. There are more arguments to support both sides, but I've chosen to talk about only those I feel are most significant. First the good news:

1) It's Nintendo

Nintendo has a long history of developing quality games, and as such will always have a strong and loyal following of gamers. This following gives Nintendo a very strong and significant userbase to build upon with the release of the GameCube. Many parents still associate "videogames" with "Nintendo", and despite Nintendo's recent mistakes with the N64 they still have a strong mind-share among a lot of gamers. This will be further emphasized with the GameCube, as Nintendo isn't trying to create a set-top box with DVD movie capabilities and other extras. Rather, they're just focusing on games, and this will help the Nintendo name to continue to be associated with gaming.

2) Intellectual Properties

Tying into point #1, any list of video game icons will no doubt include a significant number of characters owned by Nintendo. A list of Nintendo characters reads like a "who's who" in the world of video games: Mario, Luigi, Samus Aran, Link, Fox McCloud, Zelda, Gannon and on and on.

The "other" brother.

More importantly, Nintendo has always delivered a quality gaming experience involving any of these characters. Thus, consumers know they'll get a quality game when they purchase a Nintendo-developed game. While ports of games available on other systems are nice, what really pushes the sales of any console are the games that can only be found on that console…its "killer apps". In Nintendo's own lineup of first-party software, there is plenty of potential "killer apps" to be found.

3) Nintendo Have Learned Its Lesson

From everything that has been revealed about the GameCube thus far, it's clear that Nintendo has learned from its past mistakes. Mistakes made with the N64 that Nintendo isn't repeating with the 'Cube include:

a) Limited storage format. The N64 used carts, which not only limited software development but also put limits on the capabilities of the hardware itself. With the GameCube's 1.5 GB mini-DVD format, storage space is no longer an issue. While 1.5 GB is still smaller than a regular DVD, it is still more than the Dreamcast's 1.2 GB. In addition, most PS2 games still ship on regular CDs, and most of the games that do ship on DVDs still don't fill 1.5 GB. In other words, only the most FMV-intensive games will require multiple disks. 

b) Hard to develop for. Many developers complained about the N64 being difficult to develop for, and also about Nintendo not supporting developers with enough information on the N64's capabilities. All indications are that the GameCube is significantly easier to develop for (although not as easier as the Xbox is to seasoned PC developers) and that Nintendo is providing many more tools this time around. It's recently been revealed that Nintendo has already shipped out over 500 complete development kits, whereas the first PS2 development kits were shipped at only about 50% complete.  In addition, Nintendo's have committed to providing more tools for the GameCube than they did for the N64.  This will result in even lower development costs.

c) Cost of production. With the cartridge format of the N64, developers had to pay up to $30 per each cart sold. Reports indicate that Nintendo is charging $9-$10 per unit for each GameCube game, which is the same as Sony is charging and only slightly more than Microsoft is charging per unit.

4) A More Mature Focus

In recent months it's become clear that Nintendo is trying to rid itself of the "kiddy" image the N64 established. Miyamoto has indicated that Mario will assume a more "mature" role in the next Mario game. Alone this is pretty significant, as you wouldn't expect a traditional company like Nintendo to tinker too much with its biggest mascot. Beyond that though, Nintendo is also advertising in more mature areas (such as on WWF programming), approving more mature games (such as Conker's Bad Fur Day, Eternal Darkness, etc.) and having second-parties focus more on games that will appeal to older gamers (such as sports, Metroid and RPGs).

5) More Third-party Support

Already it's apparent that there will be more initial support for the GameCube then there was for the N64. Companies who didn't support the N64 initially that have already pledged support for the GameCube include 3D0, EA, Konami and Capcom. In addition to this, Namco has all-but pledged support (supposedly a Ridge Racer V port is already underway at NCL) and Squaresoft is said to be evaluating a GameCube development kit now. In all, we've got 48 confirmed titles and 48 rumored titles on our GameCube Release List, which is a very impressive number considering the NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) clamp of silence Nintendo has placed on all third-parties.

6) Price

At anywhere from $150-$200, the GameCube will likely be cheaper than either the Xbox or the PS2 when it's released next fall. This will be appealing to anyone on a budget who is looking for a gaming system.

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