• Hey, guest user. Hope you're enjoying NeoGAF! Have you considered registering for an account? Come join us and add your take to the daily discourse.
  • Hi Guest. We've rebooted and consolidated our Communities section, so be sure to check it out and subscribe to some threads. Thanks!

What really went wrong with the Gamecube?

RedSwirl

Junior Member
Mar 29, 2009
28,102
0
0
noplatform.wordpress.com
A big Nintendo-defender argument in threads on GAF has basically amounted to "What happened to the Gamecube proves that Nintendo can't win over sales and third parties by making competitive hardware." But have we really analyzed why the Gamecube lost Nintendo more market share to Sony as well as Microsoft? People tend to bring up a lot of reasons that I actually think are very minor.

Was the controller really that much of a problem? I don't think so. Compared to the PS2 pad it was missing one shoulder button, and the layout was a little awkward, but I don't think that' was enough to actually discourage a developer from making a game on it. If they thought they could make money with a Gamecube version, it wasn't that big an obstacle at all.

I also don't think the disc size was THAT limiting. I can understand that the N64's cartridges having a tenth the storage of a CD-ROM made a lot of games technically impossible on it, but the difference between a Gamecube disc and an average PS2 CD was maybe a factor of three. Depending on how many PS2 and Xbox games used up all that space, I don't think it was enough to discourage developers to shun the Gamecube en masse. Again, if they felt they could work with Nintendo and make money on a Gamecube version of a game, they could probably find a way around the storage limitations (some did, with two-disc Gamecube versions).

Online also wasn't nearly as big a factor as journalists back then made it out to be. Maybe 10 percent of Xbox owners and six percent of PS2 owners played games online. To over 90 percent of console gamers online just didn't matter.

What we're basically asking is: why couldn't Nintendo convince developers to support the Gamecube and convince people to buy it? I think the main reason is because the Gamecube had no innate advantages over its competition. It didn't offer publishers anything the other two consoles didn't.

By the PS2 era Sony was an unstoppable beast that had a stranglehold on Japanese publishers. Unless either Sony made a huge mistake (which they didn't) or one of the other two companies introduced something absolutely earth-shattering (which they didn't), neither Nintendo nor Microsoft really had a chance of knocking PlayStation off its throne. Like its predecessor, the PS2 was the place to go for all console games, especially Japanese games.

On the flipside, Microsoft had a bit of a stranglehold on a lot of western third party developers who were able to easily come onto the Xbox from the PC space. The Xbox became the console to own for western-style games like KOTOR, Morrowind, Rainbow Six (which got shitty ports on the other two consoles), Halo, etc. Plus, despite having about the same install base as the Gamecube, a lot of other western publishers kept supporting it after they dropped Gamecube support.

So you have Nintendo stuck in the middle with nothing really unique to offer anyone other than Nintendo's games. They tried to rebuild relationships with the likes of Capcom, Namco, Konami, and other companies but it was probably too little, too late to break Sony's stranglehold. I think Nintendo's real defeat however was letting Microsoft get in on their game.

Some survey from back during that time discovered that most people in the Xbox camp actually owned an N64 before buying an Xbox. Instead of taking a bite out of Sony's market, Microsoft ended up biting into Nintendo's install base instead. To me it looks like part of that was the popularity of console shooters. The N64 was actually a pretty good system for shooters, and Xbox games like Halo or Tom Clancy likely seemed to continue the trend that GoldenEye started. You could even say it took the N64's trend of popular multiplayer games and continued that, partly with Xbox Live.

Still, could Nintendo have really predicted the entrance of Microsoft and the PC developers into the console space? Could they really have countered that? Even if Nintendo of America had kept its native game divisions, not sold Rare, and came out with Perfect Dark 2 in a timely manner, would that have been enough against Halo?

When you think about it, what could Nintendo have done to differentiate the Gamecube and make the platform look more appealing to developers? Just doing exactly what they did wouldn't really provide any extra incentive.

tl;dr: I think the real problem with the Gamecube was that it merely tried to follow the PS2 without doing offering anything really special on its own. Would could Nintendo have offered to consumes and developers?
 

ViewtifulJC

Banned
Oct 14, 2010
66,828
1
0
Beaumont, TX
www.neogaf.com
And to think, it has so many things going for than the Wii-U does currently. Actual third party support(more than the systems released before or after it did, anyway), tech parity with the Sony/MS offerings, cheaper price, released with great visually-impressive games shortly after launch(Rogue Leader, Melee)...
 

SabinFigaro

Member
Mar 20, 2007
2,586
0
980
www.backloggery.com
I remember a lot of ridicule at the time being focused on the design of the hardware itself, criticizing both the purple (dominant) colour and handle. Obviously, nothing that would make or break a console, but certainly an interesting (and enduring) discussion point.
 

Beer Monkey

Member
Mar 3, 2005
23,926
5
1,225
Cincinnati
www.tehbias.com
Looked like a purse, bros ain't touchin' that.

But seriously, Playstation mindshare was at its peak. 70% of the global market went to the PS2 and that can largely be attributed to the success of the PS1. I don't know if Nintendo or Microsoft could have done anything differently last gen and changed the outcome by more than a couple of percentage points.
 

dc89

Member
May 6, 2010
37,782
2
460
Manchester, UK
backloggery.com
I loved my GameCube and I've actually thought about re-buying one and all the great games I had on it. Resident Evil, Mario Sunshine, Pikmin etc.

At the age of owning a GC I was oblivious to the larger gaming world and the intricacies which come with it. I didn't understand it how I do now, but I preferred being oblivious to be honest. Because I think enjoyed games more that way.
 

donny2112

Member
Apr 18, 2005
18,797
1
0
Purple color as the primary advertising push. Lunchbox handle was no big deal. Purple as the primary advertised picture for a video game console better be aimed at Barney fans.

Online was fine. Not a big deal either way for most.
Had plenty of games available, but I think the image of the purple console ("lunchbox" monikers were just dogpiling the purple color, I think) kept away some of the big hitters like GTAIII.
Controller was workable despite the big WIN button.
Small disk size was unfortunate, but it really wasn't that big of a deal.

Only one Rare game. Needed at least 4 more.
Oh, and Nintendo let RARE go when Nintendo/RARE should've been sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
 

frankie_baby

Member
May 3, 2007
18,401
0
0
lack of dvd support hurt them a lot in the early days, the amount of people i know that went ps2 for that reason is huge
losing rare probably did more harm to nintendo than their output would have done good had they stayed it was due to perception, the one sector of the market where the n64 was clear winner over the ps1 was FPS games and central to that was goldeneye and later perfect dark, losing rare (along with ms doing halo) gave the clear message that xbox not gamecube was the shooterbox
 

Goldenroad

Member
Jun 14, 2012
8,423
0
0
Canada
Quite simply it lacked the third party support that Microsoft and especially Sony thrived on. Many many people bought a last gen console to play the GTA games, and your choices were limited to PS2 or XBOX. Not to mention Guitar Hero.
 

Vashetti

Banned
Oct 3, 2012
20,160
1
0
United Kingdom
People were already invested in the PS2 and the Xbox, with the promise of HD consoles in the future, why buy a late console?

And the opposite is happening now with the Wii U, people know that far more powerful hardware is on the way (PS4/Xbox w/e) and so they're skipping the Wii U.
 

RedSwirl

Junior Member
Mar 29, 2009
28,102
0
0
noplatform.wordpress.com
And can you really call the Gamecube a failure while calling the original Xbox a success? The Xbox had about the same size install base and wasn't profitable at all (whereas the Gamecube was). The only difference between the two commercially was their bearing on future consoles.
 

hipgnosis

Member
Oct 11, 2009
1,469
2
0
The PS2 was a beast. There was just too much and too strong competition in the market to really stand out.
 

JordanN

Junior Member
Apr 21, 2012
18,820
6,134
855
Brampton, Ontario
The Gamecube was unfortunately doomed due to the mini disks and lack of online and "purple lunchbox".

They basically needed to be just like the Xbox and get all the "mature" games back then.

Apart from that, the console was pretty damn good.
 

jmdajr

Member
Dec 12, 2006
59,024
1
0
I think it was just a hard battle up from N64. And yes by that time Nintendo was known as the "Kiddie" machine.

I have to give it to Sony for making gaming "cool" for not just pre-teens.

I played a lot of Super Nes as a teen and trust me, it was not viewed favorably at all.

But Playstation? Perfectly acceptable. It blew my mind really how it became accepted.

So yeah, Ninetndo just has that stigma and they used it as an advantage on Wii to get a totally different audience.
Not kids but FAMILIES!
 

donny2112

Member
Apr 18, 2005
18,797
1
0
And can you really call the Gamecube a failure while calling the original Xbox a success?
I don't call the Xbox a success on its own merits. For the goal of establishing a foothold and blocking Sony's attempts to dominate the living room, the 360 has succeeded there, and that couldn't have happened without the Xbox before it, though.
 
Aug 6, 2006
13,049
4
1,270
www.blackfalcongames.net
So you have Nintendo stuck in the middle with nothing really unique to offer anyone other than Nintendo's games. They tried to rebuild relationships with the likes of Capcom, Namco, Konami, and other companies but it was probably too little, too late to break Sony's stranglehold. I think Nintendo's real defeat however was letting Microsoft get in on their game.

Some survey from back during that time discovered that most people in the Xbox camp actually owned an N64 before buying an Xbox. Instead of taking a bite out of Sony's market, Microsoft ended up biting into Nintendo's install base instead. To me it looks like part of that was the popularity of console shooters. The N64 was actually a pretty good system for shooters, and Xbox games like Halo or Tom Clancy likely seemed to continue the trend that GoldenEye started. You could even say it took the N64's trend of popular multiplayer games and continued that, partly with Xbox Live.

Still, could Nintendo have really predicted the entrance of Microsoft and the PC developers into the console space? Could they really have countered that? Even if Nintendo of America had kept its native game divisions, not sold Rare, and came out with Perfect Dark 2 in a timely manner, would that have been enough against Halo?

When you think about it, what could Nintendo have done to differentiate the Gamecube and make the platform look more appealing to developers? Just doing exactly what they did wouldn't really provide any extra incentive.

tl;dr: I think the real problem with the Gamecube was that it merely tried to follow the PS2 without doing offering anything really special on its own. Would could Nintendo have offered to consumes and developers?
So basically you're agreeing with my argument that the main reason that the Gamecube did worse than the N64 wasn't because of Sony, but was because Microsoft entered the console business and took away the older audience Nintendo had had on the N64 with its FPS, wrestling, and sports games?

Well, that certainly is true, yes. Nintendo focused on doing better in Japan and with Japanese publishers, but let its connections to Western publishers fade over the course of the generation, and if they tried anything to stop that, we never saw it. And they abandoned most of their Western second or third party exclusive party developers by the end of that generation, too, and the first and third party Western teams that "replaced" them weren't as prolific or, overall, as good (I mean, Retro's amazing, but they don't make that many games, and others like Monster Games or Next Level aren't exactly Rare or Factor 5...).

But as I've said before, in order to counter Microsoft, Nintendo would have needed something that could counter Halo, and that would have been very, very difficult for them to do. That they didn't really try at all was a definite mistake, but I don't know if they could have actually succeeded...

And can you really call the Gamecube a failure while calling the original Xbox a success? The Xbox had about the same size install base and wasn't profitable at all (whereas the Gamecube was). The only difference between the two commercially was their bearing on future consoles.
The Xbox was a success in that it built Microsoft's name in the console market and provided the groundwork for their much more successful second system, but on its own, yeah, it was a failure -- MS lost billions of dollars on the system with no (financial) return, and they completely failed in their objective of being as successful as Sony that generation.
 

RedSwirl

Junior Member
Mar 29, 2009
28,102
0
0
noplatform.wordpress.com
The Gamecube was unfortunately doomed due to the mini disks and lack of online and "purple lunchbox".

They basically needed to be just like the Xbox and get all the "mature" games back then.

Apart from that, the console was pretty damn good.
I still think mini discs weren't an insurmountable obstacle for any developer already willing to make a Gamecube game, and online wasn't a factor at all for about 90 percent of console gamers back then.
 

Dusk Golem

A 21st Century Rockefeller
Sep 15, 2011
19,008
2
800
Portland, Oregon
www.twitch.tv
Outside of mentioned reasons, this was also the era where games were trying to 'grow-up' with grit and story-based gaming and darker worlds and all of that, which the Gamecube didn't really represent.

That said, I think the Gamecube was far better than many gave it credit for at the time, it had a lot of wonderful exclusive games.
 

BiggNife

Member
Aug 15, 2007
9,512
1
0
Lack of good online certainly didn't help that's for sure.
It didn't help but I don't think it was a major factor considering the PS2's online was shit from a butt and the majority of people who bought Xbox Live for the OXbox did it solely for Halo 2. Online infrastructure didn't become a big deal until the current gen.
 
Feb 10, 2009
4,522
0
665
They needed a massive fuck up on Sony's part basically. The Gamecube and Xbox launched just as the PS2 picked up Steam and had the awesome end of 2001 lineup. It also seemed like the Goldeneye audience jumped over to Xbox for Halo.
 

Syphon Filter

Member
Aug 18, 2010
34,375
3
860
NYC
It didn't help but I don't think it was a major factor considering the PS2's online was shit from a butt and the majority of people who bought Xbox Live for the OXbox did it solely for Halo 2. Online infrastructure didn't become a big deal until the current gen.
socom on ps2 was a big deal.halo for xbox and mech assault. online was still a big deal.
 

Manmademan

Member
Nov 3, 2006
30,709
0
945
The N64 probably had a lot to do with it. the later years of that system were a complete drought of good software. ps1 gamers got more good titles in a slow month than the n64 got in a year.

plenty of gamers were feeling burned and weren't willing to give Nintendo another shot after that.
 

JasonMCG

Member
Apr 10, 2007
11,626
0
1,010
www.mrgroff.com
It followed the lukewarm success of the N64, it was purple, and was playing catch-up to what the Playstation brand was doing. The market perception was that it was for kids.
 

Bert409

Member
Aug 8, 2004
994
0
1,250
36
The PS2 was always going to be huge and Halo:CE was a big killer-app that gave Xbox 1 real momentum. The purple lunchbox image and lack of appealing Mario and Zelda titles probably held the GC back too.
 

jmdajr

Member
Dec 12, 2006
59,024
1
0
Outside of mentioned reasons, this was also the era where games were trying to 'grow-up' with grit and story-based gaming and darker worlds and all of that, which the Gamecube didn't really represent.

That said, I think the Gamecube was far better than many gave it credit for at the time, it had a lot of wonderful exclusive games.
Yup, it was more perception than anything. I think hardware (inside) had very little to do with anything.
 

Devilgunman

Member
Feb 9, 2012
6,780
0
475
devilgunman.tumblr.com
I don't think Nintendo actually did anything seriously wrong with GC but the PS2 was just so dominating that game developers could make profits by releasing games exclusively for PS2 hence there was no reason for them to spend resources to support other consoles.
 

AOC83

Banned
May 29, 2012
4,102
0
0
Came way to late (the PS2 was already completely on fire before this thing even launched)and had some questionable design choices (purple box, mini disc).
 

AstroNut325

Member
Oct 15, 2011
11,559
0
0
San Gabriel Valley, SoCal
It was the dawn of the multi-media/set-top-box age! And the GCN had no capabilities to provide anything beyond core gaming. And to make matters worse it simply didn't have enough unique/compelling software to draw the hardcore. The Xbox at least had several big ones like Elder Scrolls and Halo that resonated really well with core gamers.
 

JordanN

Junior Member
Apr 21, 2012
18,820
6,134
855
Brampton, Ontario
I still think mini discs weren't an insurmountable obstacle for any developer already willing to make a Gamecube game, and online wasn't a factor at all for about 90 percent of console gamers back then.
It would have been better to rid developers of all excuses.

Even if it wasn't problem, preventing it from happening is always the best.
 

Ninja Scooter

Member
Jun 7, 2004
123,718
6
0
Perception problem was huge. Nowadays, there is a nostalgic charm about stuff like Mario and Zelda, where it is seemingly more "okay" older teens and college age kids to play Mario Kart or NSMB. When the Gamecube hit, though, it was shunned as "kiddy". This was especially hurtful because of the generational shift that was going on at the time. Western, more "adult" themed games like GTA and Halo were becoming the faces of the industry. The GC being a little purple box with a handle did not help that in retrospect.
 
Sep 15, 2011
12,984
0
0
OP you listed several possible reasons yourself and dismissed them as minor when it was most likely because the Gamecube had all those things working against it that was the problem. That and the loss of 3rd party support that occurred the previous gen.
 

Beer Monkey

Member
Mar 3, 2005
23,926
5
1,225
Cincinnati
www.tehbias.com
I remember when the N64 came out and I was going to pass on it for at least a few months if not for a year or two.

Then I played Mario 64. Things changed.

A killer launch app never hurts. Luigi's Mansion didn't cut it.
 

sp3000

Member
Mar 20, 2011
3,392
0
0
Xbox would not be anywhere it is right now if it weren't for Halo. It's hard to underestimate how much of an impact that game had. So many people I know just bought the Xbox to play that one game. The first thing people wanted to see at a friend's house was always Halo.

Gamecube didn't have anything like that. PS2 didn't either but it didn't matter since it was so successful already.
 

Littlegator

Banned
Jan 19, 2009
1,925
0
0
It was the worst time to be the neighborhood Nintendo kid.

For the first half of the gen, all my friends and I were playing SSBM, Double Dash, Timesplitters 2, 007: Nightfire, and all these other awesome titles. Then, Halo came out and the same people were literally telling me that the Gamecube was for kids.
 

Yawnier

Banned
Nov 12, 2010
16,659
0
0
PlayStation 2.
Nothing was stopping that juggernaut. You even answer your own question in the OP. :)
I'm mostly going with this. The PS2 was the system that 'caught on' and because of that it pretty much annihilated everything in it's path when it came to home consoles at the time and the Gamecube was no exception to that.
 

Polari

Member
Jan 20, 2005
11,044
0
0
32
New Zealand
- Purple lunchbox. I loved the design, but launching with purple was pretty ridiculous as it only served to reinforce the perception at the time that Nintendo was for kids.

- No Grand Theft Auto. Once again reinforced the perception that Nintendo was for kids. That series defined the era, and once again Nintendo was on the outside looking in (some things never change, eh?)

- Poor first party support. Too many gaps in the schedule, games like Wind Waker and Super Mario Sunshine were considered inferior to their predecessors.

- No online. This was a big one. Made Nintendo look ass-backwards and meant they lost the shooter market to Microsoft.

The worst part is all of this (bar first party support perhaps) was easily rectifiable. Just the same incompetence in management that has plagued Nintendo for far too long now.
 

pswii60

Member
Jun 28, 2006
15,621
0
0
UK
What really went wrong with GameCube? PS2 happened. And a year eariler too.

PS2 had it all. It was brimming with first party and third party exclusives. It had games that appealed to all demographics, from GTA and MGS2 right through to the likes of Jak & Daxter, Sly Cooper and Ratchet & Clank. Later on, EyeToy exploded in Europe and games like Buzz and Singstar also helped lure females and "non-gamers" in to the fold - in a pre-Wii era. And to top it all off, it had DVD playback at a time when DVD was fast replacing VHS.

In comparison, GameCube was cheap. But it had no USPs, it looked like a lunchbox, Nintendo had already lost momentum from N64's final dying days, it had terrible third party support and its first party games weren't Nintendo at their best and were also few and far between.