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What went wrong and why did the GameCube fail against the Xbox?

Jan 29, 2019
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Because Halo.

And the N64 left a really bad taste in some people's mouths.
I had an N64, once I played Ocarina of Time on it it became a dust collector (I got other games like Majora's mask, but restarting the game every few minutes really killed any chance of me enjoying the game).

Anyway, the PSX, Dreamcast and PC got all the attention during the n64 years.

I also got a GameCube later, didn't play much of it compared to the Xbox (I never had a PS2). The library is what killed the machine for me.... Yet I got a Wii (the last Nintendo console I ever had)
 

NeoIkaruGAF

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I lived next to a game store. You are right that Xbox took that shelf space. What you don't get is that if Xbox hadn't existed Nintendo would still have lost that shelf space, just to more PS2 stuff.

It wasn't Xbox driving Nintendo out of the stores. It was lack of interest in Nintendo's product.

Nintendo would not have sold more than 1m more had Xbox not existed. Their lack of appeal vs PS2 was the entire problem.
XBox not existing would have given the Cube a technical advantage with multiplats. Coupled with the Resident Evil exclusive and more, and maybe a more traditional controller, it could have written a different story. But XBox completely obscured the technical advantages of the GC over the PS2.

GC ultimately lost some very important exclusives (ie, RE4) because of bad sales perspective, and lost third party effort because it was probably easier to get better results on the XBox - and a lot of multiplats mainly appealed to the western audience, just like today, which by that time clearly wasn’t the GC’s forte.

The GC’s story was a self-fulfilling prophecy for Nintendo, just like the WiiU. The games will come when the hardware sells, but the hardware doesn’t sell because the support is dire and/or there’s a competitor that does everything better. People say “I will buy it when...”, then they don’t. Add to that the perfect shitstorm moved at Nintendo from both the angsty teenage public and the specialized press that was absolutely pushing the image of video games as a medium that had reached maturity (meaning, it was for mature people) and the GC never really stood a serious chance.

XBox not existing, or coming out a year later, could have changed things a lot. The GC would never be a serious competitor for the PS2 because the PS2’s success was written from the start, but it achieving less sales than the N64 despite competitive hardware and good support in its first years is something that could hardly be predicted.
 
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Celine

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Both GC and Xbox failed to make a dent into PS2 dominance.
The difference was that the Xbox division lost US$ 4.15 billions by doing so whereas in the same timeframe Nintendo made ¥ 438.48 Bn in profits (about US$ 4.1 Bn) which was actually more than what the PlayStation division earned (¥ 306.31 Bn).
 
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Celine

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As for what went wrong with GC, it was the Nintendo console that closest was perceived as "like any other console" due to Nintendo trying to copy what made PlayStation successful the previous generation instead of focusing on Nintendo's strengths.
Why buy a GC when all your friends or neighbours have a PS2 and almost all the games are available there? Most deemed not worth it and just bought what their friends/neighbours owned (PS2).
Not even a price of $99 convinced many to give a chance to GC because the problem wasn't the price but the perceived value.

What should have Nintendo done?
I borrow the wise words spelted by Hiroshi Yamauchi in 2002:
“Coincidental to my leaving the company, I would like to make one request: that Nintendo give birth to wholly new ideas and create hardware which reflects that ideal. And make software that adheres to that same standard. Furthermore, this software should attract consumers as new and interesting. Lastly, and of equal importance, is completing these products quickly and at a cost comparable to today’s current market. I imagine most people question the feasibility of my request, but Nintendo has always pursued those objectives. I’d ask that the company continue to follow this goal as my final and only request to the new management staff. I can’t say what these new types of software will be, but I’m sure they’ll release it during my lifetime.”
 

tr1p1ex

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as was said, it's Halo, Xbox Live/online play, DVD player and MS getting pc game devs on board.

While the GC image was the lunchbox image for kids. And it didn't have online play. No DVD player.

Also Xbox had hard drive and ethernet port built-in.

GC has great 3rd party support at first, but within a few years the Xbox got all the 3rd party support and the GC was left with little to no 3rd party support.


I remember getting a GC for $99 new plus MK : DD plus coupon for another free or almost free game. And I was just amazed at how awesome the system was. That was around 2003. Meanwhile the gaming media were calling it a dead system. But to me it was a combination of best games at lowest prices especially since by then many of the best games were used and thus cheap.


Oh another factor cementing the GC's poor rep was the MP control system. I loved MP. Just an awesome game, but MP didn't have what became the standard for controllers - using the 2nd stick to look around. And that bugged lots of people. Also didn't have multiplayer like Halo did.

Last Microsoft and its moneybags. MS lost billions on the Xbox to the benefit of the consumer.
 
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Jul 24, 2016
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m. The demand is lower than PS5 it seems?
Did you ignore the post you quoted? Manufacturing obstructions (and they started later) of course it's going to be lower for now, likely if everything was even they'd be selling at or near the same, it's really when the manufacturing picks up and we see more stock on shelves where we start to see what kind of momentum Microsoft will have, and that likely won't be happening for them or Sony until summer. Like August Summer. Maybe July.

I lived next to a game store. You are right that Xbox took that shelf space. What you don't get is that if Xbox hadn't existed Nintendo would still have lost that shelf space, just to more PS2 stuff.

It wasn't Xbox driving Nintendo out of the stores. It was lack of interest in Nintendo's product.

Nintendo would not have sold more than 1m more had Xbox not existed. Their lack of appeal vs PS2 was the entire problem.

If Xbox wasn't around it's no doubt that the Gamecube would have gotten more sales to an extent, the issue though is it's not clear how much. They may have as you stated still lost a ton of shelf space at retailers in general including gaming stores, for consoles and games, they may have had stores where they just didn't sell Gamecubes.

Gamecube sales in places that Xbox did poorly in were pretty bad or underwhelming outside of Japan which was "decent".

In the US the Xbox had beaten the PS2 for some months, was having more and more sales momentum before them having to drop out and put out the 360, while the Gamecube for some time was declining even with price cuts, and even had to halt production, then they started having fire sale prices, bundles of games included, accessories included, change in marketing strategy, and they slowly started to reverse the trend, and even then that only started to become significant after the Xbox was heavily marketing, and then later releasing, the 360 in 2005.

This makes me wonder about the Gamecubes overall value perception to the consumers of the time and it may have been that even if the Xbox never entered the Gamecube may have probably only sold a bit more than it did at best and the PS2 may have either sold even more than it did, or sold the same but maybe PC or other consoles may have gotten more eyes on them. The other thing that brings up this question are the software sales for GC games after the first 1-2 years.

GC actually had more overlap with PS2 than Xbox as well, so one other theory is that the Gamecube may have actually sold LESS if the Xbox wasn't around because the Gamecube wouldn't really have anything to bring in the gamers who brought:

1. Halo
2. Project Gotham
3. Splinter Cell, or really Tom Clancy stuff in general (some where on Gamecube and were much worse than the Xbox versions)
4. GTA games (which Xbox got later due to it's mindshare)
5. Morrow wind or really any Wrpg on the system. Fable, KOtor etc.
6. Silent Hill
7. Metal Gear (well gamecube did have Twin Snakes but that's the only one it got, the small storage discs would be a problem for anything else.
8. Ninja Gaiden
9. Dead or Alive
10. Forza (Nintendo never had and still has never had a simulator iirc)
11. Sports games
12. Star Wars Battlefront
13. Mech Assault
14. True Crime
15. Max Payne

These are among the major best sellers on the Xbox platform, so unless Nintendo is able to cover these than in a scenario where Xbox never enters, the Gamecube is not likely to have these areas covered or convince devs to help them coer them, which as we know in reality, they already tried to some extent, and failed. So either the Xbox gamers would have just went to the PS2, or another consoles maybe Dreamcast has an about face, or they just stay on PC.
 
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Jul 24, 2016
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Both GC and Xbox failed to make a dent into PS2 dominance.
The difference was that the Xbox division lost US$ 4.15 billions by doing so whereas in the same timeframe Nintendo made ¥ 438.48 Bn in profits (about US$ 4.1 Bn) which was actually more than what the PlayStation division earned (¥ 306.31 Bn).

That's not the Gamecube alone, that includes the GBA, which made up the the Gamecubes missteps.

Also Xbox lost money due to issues with manufacturing partners such as Nvidia. They could have sold double the consoles which would cause double the losses, and they still would have had drop out and quickly release the 360 for said reason.

Context is important. Xbox was actually moving at an accelerated rate before the new console rumors made rounds, which ended up being true when they announced the 360, and that smashed Xbox sales.
 

JimboJones

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It just didn't have a USP, third party support dried up quick, and it's first party support was pretty weak, I think only smash had mass appeal and that was a launch title.
 

ReBurn

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Nintendo messed up with the low capacity optical discs. It was 1/3 the size of a standard dvd and developers often had to make too many compromises to port their games. So they just didn't.

The controller wasn't great unless you are a Smash player.
 

Celine

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That's not the Gamecube alone, that includes the GBA, which made up the the Gamecubes missteps.

Also Xbox lost money due to issues with manufacturing partners such as Nvidia. They could have sold double the consoles which would cause double the losses, and they still would have had drop out and quickly release the 360 for said reason.

Context is important. Xbox was actually moving at an accelerated rate before the new console rumors made rounds, which ended up being true when they announced the 360, and that smashed Xbox sales.
Of course the profits Nintendo recorded during that era weren't exclusively related to GC but they couldn't earn $4 Bn if the GC was a huge money pit like the the first Xbox was.

Xbox losses weren't caused solely by the hardware but also due to all the tactics they employed to be competitive.
They were ready to burn a huge stash of cash to get on top of the hill.
Under this aspect there is absolutely nothing Nintendo should learn from Microsoft.

IMO the GC/GBA era was the darkest time for Nintendo since they entered the videogame business (even worse than the WiiU/3DS era) because it was a time Nintendo struggled to affirm their raison d'être as a console manufacturer (it was an existential treat, more than a financial treat).
During the WiiU/3DS era Nintendo lost money (for 3 consecutive fiscal years) for the first time ever since entering the videogame business but that was the consequence of them misreading the market, the overall strategy was still sound therefore they had an already established road to walk down with their next try (and as history has already shown they hit out of the park!).
 
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Sep 18, 2019
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IMO the mini dvd is one of the reason the machine never got bit multplats like GTA. And many people who bought the PS2 did it because of the cheap DVD Player.

I don't think it failed against the Xbox.
 
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Romulus

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Xbox got a lot of games that weren't exclusive, but we're PC/Xbox only.

This doesn't seem like a huge deal now, but back then, a lot of the more demanding games only went to Xbox and there were some heavy hitters.

Morrowind
Kotor 1/2
Half-Life 2
Doom 3 and RoE
Painkiller
Republic Commando
Jade Empire
Riddick
Operation Flashpoint
Ghost Recon 2 summit strike
Far Cry Instincts and Evolution(different but great in their own right)
Deus Ex Invisible war
Counter Strike




I'm probably forgetting 10-20. And that's not even counting all the games they did port to the other consoles, but the Xbox versions were usually far better. Not like comparisons today where you have to zoom in 300% to see anything. You could tell sitting 15ft from the TV.
 

sunnysideup

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DVD was huge for PS2. DVD players at the time weren't much cheaper than the PS2.
It is completely overstated. Yes it was a great feature. And it sold ps2 in the beginning. I stood in line when it released and it was my first dvdplayer. But Ps2 was the sequel to the most successful console of all time, it had revolutionary games like gta3. We have all seen the picture of the ps2 line up the first year.

Most people here dont even remember how fucking hyped the ps2 was.

Dvd players where cheap as chips by 01-02. The bulk of the ps2 sales happened after dvdplayer price dropped to nothing.
 
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Zeroing

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Fact, Xbox had tons of marketing and celebrities, “praising” the console. Hey even the 360 had the same marketing thing.

PS2 was marketed to teenagers they even had clubs with consoles for teens to play.

and what Nintendo had? Well it was still viewed as a console for kids... that perception still is a bit present nowadays.

so all the less favorable things against the console had plus the marketing of the competition and the GameCube was absent in people’s “wishlist”
 
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Celine

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Celebrities endorsing the console, artsy TV ads like Sony pioneered with PS1, Gamecube had all of them.
Now it can be said that Microsoft was outspending Nintendo but that was inevitable because Microsoft already set their mind to lose a lot of money to get in the first row whereas Nintendo's main goal was always to be profitable.
The real problem for GC was to be too much similar to competition (and here I'm talking about PS2, not Xbox) while not having the same software support because third-parties already set their minds even before launch that they would to gain the most from PS2 therefore favoured the Sony platform.
Financial motivations win over any technical hurdle or inferiority.



 
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Shodan09

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I think the main issue was that this gen was gamings edgy teen phase and a purple cube just wasn't appealing in the time of The Matrix etc. There was an image problem from day one.

Secondly Nintendo just weren't investing much in the type of games people wanted to see at that time which were exclusively gritty FPS games. I always miss the GameCube gen as it was possibly the only time Nintendo has made any attempt to broaden their library with games like eternal darkness, geist and twin snakes.
 
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Celine

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I think the main issue was that this gen was gamings edgy teen phase and a purple cube just wasn't appealing in the time of The Matrix etc. There was an image problem from day one.

Secondly Nintendo just weren't investing much in the type of games people wanted to see at that time which were exclusively gritty FPS games. I always miss the GameCube gen as it was possibly the only time Nintendo has made any attempt to broaden their library with games like eternal darkness, geist and twin snakes.
The top 50 best selling games in US on PS2/GC/XB is mostly represented by PS2 games, only a handful of GC (Smash Bros/Super Mario/Zelda/Luigi's Mansion) and XB (Halo 2/Halo/Fable) games are there.
Of these 50 games, only three are FPS: Halo, Halo 2 and Medal of Honor Frontline for PS2 (game was multiplatform: PS2, XB, GC).
The generation in which the FPS genre rose to prominence was the following one.

Halo 1/2 were hugely popular though.

Looking further most of the PS2 games are either exclusive from japanese publishers (for example Kingdom Hearts) or mega hits by western publishers which were multiplatform and often with a GC version (think for example to Madden), with only a handful of Sony first-party games.
The most notable exclusion of a hugely popular western game(s) on GC is the Grand Theft Auto franchise which was the best selling franchise of that gen.
 
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Shodan09

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The top 50 best selling games in US on PS2/GC/XB is mostly represented by PS2 games, only a handful of GC (Smash Bros/Super Mario/Zelda/Luigi's Mansion) and XB (Halo 2/Halo/Fable) games are there.
Of these 50 games, only three are FPS: Halo, Halo 2 and Medal of Honor Frontline for PS2 (game was multiplatform: PS2, XB, GC).
The generation in which the FPS genre rose to prominence was the following one.

Halo 1/2 were hugely popular though.

Looking further most of the PS2 games are either exclusive from japanese publishers (for example Kingdom Hearts) or mega hits by western publishers which were multiplatform and often with a GC version (think for example to Madden), with only a handful of Sony first-party games.
The most notable exclusion of a hugely popular western game(s) on GC is the Grand Theft Auto franchise which was the best selling franchise of that gen.
Ok so gritty third person games. Point stands.
 

TheGrat1

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i think 3 consoles is a bit too much for the market , that is the reason why nintendo does its own thing now.
Technically it was 4 but I do not blame you for forgetting about the Dreamcast. Regardless, no way is 3 consoles too much. I believe the 7th Gen still holds the record for most hardware sold (273 million) and that does not even include the beastly PSP (82 million) or the unstoppable DS Family (154 million). 3 consoles + 2 handhelds and the manufacturers sold gangbusters. That was Nintendo's and Microsoft's peak (so far).
again, the surprise is that it sold better than the GameCube and got better third party support than the GameCube. the PS2 and PS1 are a non factor here.
Third party support was not much of a surprise. The Xbox had format (DVD 9), power, and controller (Gamecube controller actually had fewer buttons than a DualShock 1 for some reason) parity with any other console on the market (specifically the PS2). Those are all things Nintendo has not had since the SNES and their 3rd party support has been shaky ever since. Give MS credit, they have managed to check those boxes with every console they have released.
 
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Tschumi

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They were perceived as the weakest console and had relatively few gritty titles like gta or halo, I'm speaking as someone who had and loved a GameCube back then. It was colourful and small, it looked like a children's console, turns out it had industry leading tech in some areas but i certainly didn't know about that.
 

Pagusas

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PS2 was just such a leviathan, no one could touch it. It left table scraps for Nintendo and microsoft. MS, thanks to Halo, and reallly deep marketing pockets, ate up those scraps and quickly moved onto the 360.

Nintendo learned its lesson though, look at how the wii literally did what the ps2 did
 

S0ULZB0URNE

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Technically it was 4 but I do not blame you for forgetting about the Dreamcast. Regardless, no way is 3 consoles too much. I believe the 7th Gen still holds the record for most hardware sold (273 million) and that does not even include the beastly PSP (82 million) or the unstoppable DS Family (154 million). 3 consoles + 2 handhelds and the manufacturers sold gangbusters. That was Nintendo's and Microsoft's peak (so far).

Third party support was not much of a surprise. The Xbox had format (DVD 9), power, and controller (Gamecube controller actually had fewer buttons than a DualShock 1 for some reason) parity with any other console on the market (specifically the PS2). Those are all things Nintendo has not had since the SNES and their 3rd party support has been shaky ever since. Give MS credit, they have managed to check those boxes with every console they have released.
Why would you bump this?
 

DT MEDIA

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I think the gamecube was more of a victim from the the era in which it was released than anything else.
The early 00's was the era of Jackass, American Pie and overall teenage edginess. Games like GTA 3, Halo and even the more action oriented platformers like Ratchet and Jak just reasoned more with the type of players from those times than whatever Nintendo was trying to put out there.


I would certainly agree with this. The early 2000s was not friendly to Nintendo's Disney image. Gamers were growing up and wanted edgier content than what was available on Gamecube. That console certainly needed a couple Grand Theft Autos in its arsenal.

I always thought of the GC era as Nintendo's "Zooropa Phase," if that makes any sense. They were just going through this weird experimental period where they took their beloved franchise titles and just bent them a little. Super Mario Sunshine, Zelda Wind Waker, Metroid Prime, Mario Kart Double Dash--all were very different from what came before, and while that creativity will impress some fans, it will also alienate many more. Gamers want dependability, the same-old, same-old.

But, hey, Nintendo had Pokemon, which has always been a license to print money. They could afford to go off the reservation and do their own thing. Sometimes it pays off (DS, Wii, Switch), while othertimes it doesn't (GC, 3DS, WiiU). It's just their way.
 
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Crimson_Fate

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Because Halo.

And the N64 left a really bad taste in some people's mouths.
Exactly..



I was waiting for the N64 Specs to be reveled and when they were I went with the sega Saturn . My biggest gripe is that Nintendo was staying with their proprietary cartridge's which also limited game sizes.

When the Gamecube came out Nintendo changed from proprietary carts to proprietary mini dvd's . Again they limited the capacity of their storage and they made it so you could not even play back movies just to make sure their media was used.

There was no upgrade path from the saturn so I moved on to the Xbox from there. Nintendo has never really changed its stipes for me and I have never owned one of their devices since the SNES
 
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teezzy

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Original Xbox is the greatest console of all time

Everything fails against it
 

Three

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The OG xbox got better third party support than the gamecube because it was a PC in a box. Getting dev kits and porting was easier. Nintendo didn't have a good third party relationship. They were less likely to give out dev kits, they were less likely to approve your game and consumers were less likely to buy your games instead of just Nintendo games.
 
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grfunkulus

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File alongside Dreamcast as one of the most brutally underrated consoles of all time. I adored my GC.

Correct. Owning back to back 'losers' (DC and 'cube) never felt so good. I can't imagine never having played many of the exclusives that came out on both consoles, or, only having played them far after the fact as not-as-good remakes or on emulation. Seriously, if you didn't own one or both of these consoles at the time, you missed out. Granted, the PS2 has perhaps the biggest library of solid titles ever, and the Xbox had titles and an online platform that would shape the future of gaming (not just for the industry at large but me personally--90% of my time is spent playing online only shooters nowadays). This isn't nostalgia goggles speaking either. I have at least 4-5 devices with dolphin installed, and my cube sitting under my plasma in the basement as the designated "last stop" for all consoles pre-hdmi.
 

Isleofsancroy

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This really isn't a complicated subject, since the NES Nintendo had primarily targeted children and had no issue ignoring other groups until the Sega Genesis took off and started eating their lunch in what was their previously most successful market, the USA. But they still never really opened up, only just enough so that they could fight off Sega and obtain victory, but even with that victory they had lost a lot more ground than many people realize. This is why in my eyes, what happened with the N64 wasn't surprising, because they never learned the lessons they needed to. Nintendo fans, and a new generation of children brought N64 games but children also wanted to play other games than Banjo and Kirby, they wanted action games, they wanted wrestling, they wanted to shoot things up, they wanted orange furry creatures being blown up by boxes of TNT, they wanted to raid tombs, and so on. This is why many were buying the Genesis in the first place, and Nintendo was still not open to offering these games in any meaningful capacity, even though they would have lost to Sega without them. It's also important to understanding why Goldeneye was such a big deal when it released on the N64 in 1997.

By the time the Gamecube came out, Nintendo was relying entirely on nostalgia and a small remnant of new youngsters, the issue was most of the other youngsters were not playing on the Gamecube, they were playing on PS2, Xbox, and PC. The only other allocation of youngsters that Nintendo could grab were on the GBA, and this is why they heavily pushed GBA and GC connectivity frequently, but things didn't pan out.

Xbox and its games in comparison, were seen as entirely new to most console gamers (unless you had a 3DO). All those cool games you saw your dad or your tech geek friends play 10-20 years before could finally be played on a TV without spending 5 hours trying to figure out which broken file was making it so the game couldn't run. There was a sense of the unknown that made Xbox a novelty for millions of people.

Nintendo still hasn't improved today, they are still refusing to create or push certain kinds of software to broaden their demographics. The Switch was created as a result of their dismissal failing 4 times previously, and this is why I doubt the Switch 2 will be anywhere near as successful as the Switch 1.