|Despite a decent library of quality titles and massive sales of its Game Boy Advance SP, Nintendo sits dead last in the home console market yet again. But this time it's not only due to the company not giving the people what they want. One quick look at a listing of Game Cube titles shows that there are a number of cross-platform games available along with some great exclusives that would make any gamer a happy camper. But why aren't Game Cubes flying off store shelves even with the free game or GB Player deal Nintendo has been pushing for the past few months? I have a few theories, and I'm hoping you'll indulge me for a few hundred words.
First of all, the company still hasn't totally shaken its "family only" image. Which is really odd, given exclusives like the Resident Evil series, Eternal Darkness, and Die Hard: Vendetta, and ports of games like Hitman 2, Splinter Cell, and Bloodrayne. People are also still biased against Nintendo for some reason, and it could be a name association or the fact that the company doesn't promote all of its titles as much as the games geared toward younger players (or folks who won't be offended by certain content).
The RPG factor has been taken care of, but not to the extent that some fans would like. Most of the games for the system have been enhanced ports of Dreamcast or PS2 titles, which shows just how out of touch the company has been. How many people want to play a game that they've either played before or doesn't look as good as a game done just for the system. Unfortunately, many gamers are graphics whores that don't understand the concept of enjoying a game based on its merits. Sure, Squaresoft has finally lifted its ban on doing any work for Nintendo, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles is sure to sell like hotcakes. But is it enough to keep the system afloat while everyone is drooling over the prospect of a new Xbox and PS2? I seriously doubt it.
The online question- there's a modem for the Game Cube, and what, one game? Come on, Nintendo! Why even release a peripheral if you're going to decide that the GBA makes for better "connectivity"? In a way, the GBA/GC connection is a gimmick that's only viable if you're playing Animal Crossing, Legend of Zelda: Windwaker or Splinter Cell, games you really don't need the GBA to enjoy, by the way. Personally, I could care less about paying to play games online, but I highly respect both Microsoft and Sony (in that order) for dedicating time and effort into working out many of the kinks and providing those that want it a reliable online gaming experience.
Then there's the demo disc factor. Sony dove on the idea, releasing playable discs as soon as the first Playstation hit store shelves. The company knew that the best way to get skeptics to play the games and commit to a purchase was to make demos widely available, either through store kiosks, an official magazine or assorted giveaways. Microsoft has also followed this plan to some extent, but Nintendo has only released one disc to date. While one could say that's partly because the initial batch of Cube titles were few and far between, releasing playable demos is something that should have been considered early in the system's development. Not everyone has access to a store kiosk, and since Game Cube discs can't be easily copied, it would have been a great bonus for potential buyers to see (and play) what was on the way. Look at what people are paying for illegally obtained (they're supposed to be returned to the company) Game Cube store demos on ebay. Nintendo has been ignoring a potentially huge share of the market ever since they stuck with cartridges with the N64.
What needs to be addressed in NOT the creation of a new system or even more GBA titles. the fact is, Nintendo needs to start thinking of ways to keep older players while luring in the new ones at the same time. If people aren't buying the old system, what makes them think they'll buy anything new that the company creates? Skeptics say that Nintendo can never go out of business, but how much money and credibility can a company lose and still have a fanbase that shows an interest in everything the company puts out, not just one or two moneymaking franchises. Both Sega and Atari were indestructable at one time too, remember?