Of course, that statement itself is misleading, because the Gamecube didn’t need saving. It made a profit for Nintendo and over twenty million were sold worldwide. While that’s not a failure, the Gamecube placed third place in the sixth console generation. A lot of video game fans had a lot of strong opinions about what Nintendo did wrong.
Here are five big misconceptions about what people thought would have saved the Gamecube from third place in the console race.
5. Super Mario Sunshine at launch
It’s fairly clear now that Super Mario Sunshine being available at launch would not have had a significant impact of the Gamecube’s overall lifetime sales. It may have sold a few more units at launch, but Super Mario Sunshine’s problems would have exacerbated the Gamecube’s negative image if it would have launched with the system. Although Luigi’s Mansion was a disappointing launch game for some, Rogue Leader really made a great case to own a Gamecube. Super Mario Sunshine with its G-rated image, yet not enough variety of environments for hardcore Mario fans and too difficult a game for children, would not have made a good case to own a Gamecube.
4. Larger storage capacity
Another popular criticism was that the Gamecube’s mini disc storage capacity was too small. Capable of holding only 1.5 gigabytes compared to the 4.7 gigabytes of a standard DVD, many said that the Gamecube was being deprived of many large third party games. In retrospect, this doesn’t seem to be a valid argument as we know now that many of the most popular games the skipped the Gamecube in the sixth generation were not usually much larger that 1.5 gigabytes. Many large games for the Gamecube shipped with multiple discs. Swapping discs doesn’t seem to make or break a console as it didn’t negatively affect the Playstation 1.
3. Keeping Rare and/or Silicon Knights
In retrospect, it’s quite easy to see why Nintendo made the decisions it did about Rare and Silicon Knights. Neither studio has released a game anywhere near the quality of software they were releasing in the N64/Gamecube days. According to rumor, many of Rare’s key staff had already left when Nintendo sold its shares to the Stampers who sold the company to Microsoft. Nintendo had a contract with Silicon Knights to produce exclusive games for the Gamecube and when the contract was finished, Nintendo did not renew. Seeing Silicon Knight’s game for the Xbox 360 Too Human, it’s easy to see why.
2. Online Play
In North America, the Gamecube had two online games, and a handful of others in Japan. While online gaming on the PS2 and Xbox was starting to take off with a select few number of titles, Nintendo really didn’t have a first party game that would have befitted from online play outside of Mariokart: Double Dash and maybe Super Smash Bros. Melee. Being able to play Tony Hawk, Madden, Splinter Cell or Rainbow Six online would have made good bullet points on the back of the box, but a majority of players who play those games seriously would have been playing on another console. Nintendo really didn’t have an online title capable of taking on experiences offered by Halo 2, Final Fantasy XI or the World of Warcraft. If Nintendo titles had had online play, the Gamecube’s installed base would not have increased significantly because of it.
1. Grand Theft Auto
The biggest misconception is that if the Grand Theft Auto series had been released on Gamecube, the Gamecube would have sold millions of units more. A Grand Theft Auto release on the Gamecube would not have moved systems off store shelves. The biggest indicator of this is the fact that Grand Theft Auto releasing on Xbox did not have that effect. Grand Theft Auto sold moderately on the Xbox but not nearly as much as Rockstar had hoped. Grand Theft Auto releases on the GBA and DS have gotten a tepid response from consumers. Even the release of Grand Theft Auto IV did not see a surge of seventh generation adopters buying systems, despite the game selling millions. Even if Grand Theft Auto III had been exclusive to the Gamecube, there is a good chance the Gamecube might have become the number #2 console in North America and Europe but would not have toppled Sony from #1. Even a game such as Grand Theft Auto wouldn’t be able to convince consumers to ignore Halo, Final Fantasy, Grand Turismo and God of War. To put it in simple terms, Grand Theft Auto would have done for the Gamecube what Grand Theft Auto V would do for the Wii U. Very little.