Nintendo cuts price of GameCube by 20%

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Nintendo yesterday turned up the heat in the computer games console market by slashing the launch price of its GameCube machine.

The move will make the machine the cheapest of the latest generation of consoles when it is launched in Europe on 3 May.

The company said yesterday the GameCube would now retail across Europe at a price of 199 euros (£122), a 20 per cent cut from the previous €250 launch price. The machine will go on sale for £129 in the UK.

The move comes just days after Microsoft knocked £100 off the price of its recently launched Xbox machine to £199. That price cut, which comes into play this Friday, brings the price of the Microsoft machine into line with that of Sony's PlayStation 2 device.

Analysts, who were surprised Nintendo had cut the price of its new machine before it had hit the shelves, said all eyes were now on Sony to see if it would retaliate with a price cut of its own.

Sony launched its PlayStation 2 machine in the UK in November 2000 at a price of £299. It now sells for £199.

The price cuts, however, were welcomed by computer games designers who predicted they could spark faster uptake among consumers. Jez San, chief executive of the computer games designer Argonaut Games, said: "Price cuts by the various game platform companies are not only in the consumers' interest but also in the content creators' and owners' interests. Anything that increases the chance of mass-market take-up is great for the games industry."

Nintendo will initially ship 500,000 GameCube consoles to Europe for the launch. A further 500,000 units are expected to be shipped in the following two months.

David Gosen, managing director of Nintendo Europe, said: "This is a very strong offer for consumers and one that we believe will ensure Nintendo's success across Europe."

The move came as a research group said sales of video games in the UK rose 6 per cent in the first quarter of the year. The European Leisure Software Publishers said 11 million video games were sold in the first three months of the year.