Nintendo Cuts Its GameCube Price

Monday, May 20th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Nintendo of America announced Monday it will cut the price of its GameCube video game system by $50 to $149, the latest shot in the ongoing console war that includes Sony's PlayStation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox.

Nintendo's new price, effective Tuesday, followed drops last week in the consumer cost of its two rival systems. Playstation 2 and Xbox were both selling for $299 before separate announcements that the companies were reducing the prices to $199.

GameCube previously undercut the other two by $100, and company officials said keeping the price low is a key part of attracting new consumers.

``Our goal is to get as many hardware units out there as possible so we can sell software against a bigger installed base,'' said Nintendo marketing executive George Harrison. ``This year, it's going to be a battle of software.''

The Nintendo cut comes as the nearly $27 billion interactive entertainment industry gathers in Los Angeles for this week's Electronic Entertainment Expo, which previews the latest hardware and software set for release over the coming year.

``We believe we came out at the best price and think this will put us in a very competitive position, particularly with the games we're showing this week at E3,'' Harrison added.

Those game capitalize on many of Nintendo's popular trademarks, with ``Super Mario Sunshine'' featuring the popular mustachioed plumber character from ``Donkey Kong'' and ``Super Mario Bros.'' and a state-of-the-art version of ``The Legend of Zelda,'' the sword-and-sorcery series about a heroic elf named Link.

At about $149, Nintendo will roughly break even on sales of each GameCube, Harrison said. The company has kept manufacturing costs lower by not offering an installed DVD player on the GameCube like its rival consoles.

Xbox executives acknowledged advancing its price cut because of Sony's announcement, but Nintendo officials initially balked when asked if they would slash prices, too.

Harrison said Nintendo had already planned to lower its price.

``Nothing changed except we couldn't say anything until we were ready to announce it,'' he said.

GameCube, which went on sale in the United States last November, has shipped about 4.5 million units worldwide so far. Microsoft's Xbox, which debuted about the same time, says it expects to have shipped 3.5 million to 4 million consoles by the end of June.

PlayStation 2, which had nearly a year jump-start before its rivals, is the clear industry leader with more than 30 million units sold worldwide.