Nintendo's New System Debuts Days Before Microsoft's Console

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LOS ANGELES ( -- Pity the poor GameCube.

Nintendo's new compact video-game console will arrive in retail stores Nov. 5, just three days before Microsoft Corp.'s new Xbox game

Nintendo's GameCube.
system makes its debut.

But Nintendo executives downplayed the timing at a press conference prior to the opening of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, trade show here. They preferred to focus on premiering a slew of new games and stalwart characters from hit franchises such as Mario for the new platform.

Battle for consumers
Nintendo is looking ahead despite what is likely to be a battle royal between Xbox and Sony Computer Entertainment America's PlayStation 2 for consumers.

In a less-than-veiled dig at the Xbox and the PlayStation 2, Nintendo executives said sophisticated graphics and enhanced special effects aren't what matter -- the entertainment does. Nintendo, however, for all its aspirations to expand beyond young gamers, the 9 to 17 set, didn't lay out details on how it plans to attack the market.

The absence of a detailed strategy led some insiders to believe that Nintendo is leaving the adult gaming market to its two competitors.

"Microsoft and Sony are going to be fighting for the same market. Nintendo is going to have the young crowd to themselves," said Marjorie Costello, editor of CE Online News.

Nintendo didn't announce pricing on the GameCube, but it expects to reveal details May 24 during a financial briefing.

Big seller in Japan
Meanwhile, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo's handheld game system, goes on sale in the U.S. on June 11. In Japan, the unit, which launched March 21, has sold 1.6 million units, along with 3.1 million software titles for the game.

Nintendo plans to have 500,000 Game Boy Advance units available June 11 for the U.S. launch, with another 500,000 two weeks later. The company has already pre-sold 200,000 units. The prduct is buttressed by a $20 million to $25 million ad campaign via Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago.

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