|Mario continues in popularity as Nintendo's icon game character.
Microsoft & Sony
Meanwhile, Microsoft Corp. and Sony revealed their own competing strategies at E3. Microsoft announced it was preparing to spend $2 billion in a five year marketing push for online and offline versions of its Xbox console game system. While Microsoft's online strategy will exclusively use broadband access, Sony is stressing that its competing PlayStation 2 online systems will be avialable via dial-up and broadband connections.
Company executives emphasized that last year was all about hardware -- GameBoy Advance and GameCube -- but that this year was about content and proprietary connectivity.
While Nintendo is dipping its toe into the online console gaming waters, it is focusing sharply on promoting a proprietary connectivity concept that links GameBoy Advance and the GameCube.
Executives demonstrated the concept by showing "Animal Crossing," a game due out in September that allows gamers to download characters and other content using the GameBoy Advance as a controller. Using a memory card, gamers can then swap the content like collectable trading cards for play on the GameCube console.
Built-in motion-sensor technology allows the GameBoy Advance to become a controller for the GameCube and also enables game play between the GameCube and the GameBoy Advance.
Mario and Zelda
In overall game offerings this year, the popular and enduring Nintendo character franchises, Mario and Zelda, continued strong. This fall, Nintendo will plow most of its ad dollars into backing the games "Super Mario Sunshine," "The Legend of Zelda," "Metroid," "Fox McCloud" and "Star Fox Adventures."
Nintendo spent more than $180 million in 2001 in the U.S. in measured media, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.
Nintendo gets a bad rap on three fronts: not delivering enough fare to lure older gamers; offering up no online strategy; and failing to aggressively cultivate third-party software publishers. Executives at today's presentation sought to counter those concerns.
Chasing older gamers
As it continues a bid for older gamers, Nintendo previewed "Metroid: Prime," "Resident Evil Zero" and "Resident Evil," and the thriller "Eternal Darkness," for the GameCube to the delight of the audience. Nintendo is working with Namco, Sega and Capcom, among others, to develop GameCube titles that have broad appeal.
Nintendo's online gambit for the GameCube starts this fall with Sega's "Phantasy Star Online Episode I & II." Modem and broadband adaptors will sell this fall for $34.95 apiece.