November 29, 2001 10:40 AM PST

Nintendo reports record GameCube launch

Nintendo says it sold more than 500,000 GameCube consoles during their first week on sale in the United States, which would make it the biggest U.S. game machine launch to date.

Nintendo had promised shipments of more than 700,000 units when the console launched Nov. 18, with about 80 percent going to U.S. retailers and the rest to Canada and rental outlets. Almost all the retail units sold out within the first week, Nintendo said in a statement, with more units now arriving at stores.

Microsoft, which hedged on launch quantities for its Xbox game console, was believed to have had about 300,000 units available when the device went on sale Nov. 15. Most of those units sold out within the first few days, according to a Goldman Sachs retail survey.

Microsoft has pledged to ship 1 million to 1.5 million Xbox consoles to stores by the end of the year, similar to Nintendo's goal for 1.3 million GameCubes by year's end.

By contrast, Sony had about 500,000 units of its PlayStation 2 available when it launched in North America late last year, but the electronics giant had trouble replenishing supplies after initial shipments quickly sold out.

Although the GameCube's grand entrance is worth bragging rights for Nintendo, it's likely to have little bearing on how the three-way race for console supremacy plays out over the next few years. "This is the start of a marathon," George Harrison, vice president of marketing for Nintendo of America, noted shortly before the GameCube's launch.

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  Nintendo reports GameCube sellout
George Harrison, VP, Nintendo
Meanwhile, the biggest video game success of the month had nothing to do with either the GameCube or Xbox. Japanese publisher Konami reported that it shipped 1.8 million copies of its highly anticipated PlayStation 2 adventure game, "Metal Gear Solid 2," to U.S. retailers since the game launched Nov. 13. At that pace, the title would rival Sony's "Gran Turismo 3" as one of the most successful game software debuts ever.

 

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