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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Nintendo's GameCube to be priced below $200

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Nintendo will sell its long-awaited GameCube for $199.95 — about $100 less than video-game boxes with more bells and whistles from major competitors — starting Nov. 5.

The announcement answers the final questions for an army of parents who will be in the market for a console this year.

It comes less than a week after Microsoft said it would begin sales of its Xbox for $299 on Nov. 8.

Sony's PlayStation 2, which has sold 3 million units in North America since its introduction in October, sells for $299.

"We are pretty thrilled that we are able to bring it in at this price," Perrin Kaplan, vice president of corporate affairs for Nintendo of America Inc., said from her office in Redmond, Wash. "These systems are pretty much computers, and there is nothing simple about getting the price down for a computer."

The industry has called this the most important year ever for video games and predicts it will be the biggest console war in history.

Analysts have been loath to bet on a winner, noting that publishers who make the games that the boxes play are spreading their bets.

The new boxes come with varying combinations of high-speed Internet access, MP3 capability, DVD movie playback, richer graphics, more memory, and faster, smarter game play.

The Xbox will be the only machine that will ship with a built-in hard drive and high-speed Internet connection.

It also has the marketing might of Microsoft behind it; analysts say the company has spent $500 million to spread the Xbox gospel — more than the software company spent to promote Windows 95.

Sony's big advantage is its early entry into the market and its built-in DVD player. The Xbox can also play DVDs but only if owners pay extra for a controller.

Nintendo, meanwhile, is apparently betting on price. Its box, once code-named "Dolphin," has neither DVD playback nor hard drive. But the GameCube can be used with Nintendo's upcoming Game Boy Advance, a handheld gadget that represents the next generation of the Game Boy.

Nintendo is also counting heavily on its near legendary status as a creative powerhouse among hardcore fans, who still seek autographs from "Mario" creator Shigeru Miyamoto and who grew up with Donkey Kong.