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GameCube Draws Crowds In Japan

Japanese consumers were reportedly snapping up the first 50,000-unit shipments of Nintendo’s GameCube console here, although at rates that some retailers said seemed softer than for the launch of Sony’s Playstation2 system last year.

According to Reuters, the first day of sales, Sept. 14, drew lines in front of stores before opening hours across the country, and in some outlets, such as supermarket chain Ito-Yokado, 80 percent of approximately 180 stores had sold out in hours. A majority of the first consoles were earmarked for customers who had pre-ordered systems.

However, Reuters reported that video rental chain Tsutaya expected to sell out of its supply after the weekend, and a spokesman for the chain was quoted saying, “I wouldn’t say the sales have been explosive. But the GameCubes have been selling well, [although] maybe not as well as PlayStation 2.”

Nintendo said it is planning to ship an additional 900,000 units in Japan by the end of the year. Nintendo is selling the player in its domestic market for about 25,000 yen (US$212).

As previously reported, Nintendo announced the GameCube shipments planned for the United States would be delayed about two weeks. Originally, the platform was to have launched in Japan in July, but that was pushed back last April to Sept. 14 because the company said it wanted to ensure sufficient supply of both hardware and compelling software titles.

The company announced at E3 that the first U.S. GameCube consoles would arrive here on Nov. 5, a few days prior to the launch of Microsoft’s Xbox, but that was recently pushed back to Nov. 18, 10 days after the scheduled Xbox debut.

Nintendo GameCube will sell here for a $199.95 suggested retail price. The company plans to have 17 “blockbuster titles” available by the end of the year.

More than 700,000 units will be available for the North American launch, with the total reaching 1.1 million units by the end of the year, the company said.