GameCube getting price cut in Japan?

Retailers expecting systems to go for 30 percent less starting October 27; Nintendo pulls MSRP.

TOKYO--Earlier this month, Nintendo reported a drop in revenue of almost 7 percent and laid most of the blame on the sluggish performance of the GameCube. Nintendo senior managing director Yoshihiro Mori went so far as to say, "It looks like the product's life is nearing its end."

Nintendo doesn't want it to go without a fight, however. Earlier this week the company announced a Mario Party 7 GameCube bundle for North America that would include the system, the Mario Party 7 game, and an extra controller, all for the same $99 price the system currently goes for on its own. The company has also released a $99 Pokémon XD GameCube bundle that includes the system, the Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness game, and a limited edition Pokémon XD faceplate. Now word arrives that the company is planning to push the system in its homeland as well.

According to retail sources in Japan, Nintendo will be slashing the price of the GameCube in that country on October 27. However, the size of the cut is unknown, since Nintendo is no longer giving an MSRP for the console. Some retailers are already starting to accept preorders for GameCube shipments after the date for 9,700 yen ($84), which is roughly 30 percent less than the current street price of 13,800 yen ($120).

Nintendo hasn't officially announced a price cut yet, but it did confirm on Wednesday that the console would move to an "open price" starting October 27, meaning the machine will no longer have an official MSRP. The practice is adopted as a standard in Japan's electronics industry, since it gives manufacturers the flexibility to freely reprice their products depending on the market situation. Sony's slimline PlayStation 2 also carries an open price.

If the cut is as substantial as retailers are expecting it to be, the GameCube will become the cheapest current-generation console available in the Japanese market today, even more affordable than the Game Boy Micro, which currently goes for 12,000 yen ($105). The change should boost sales of the console, which has been staggering in recent months. For the week of September 26, Media Create reports that the GameCube sold 1,958 units in Japan, less than one-tenth of the 24,638 PS2 units sold in the same week.

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