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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
Nintendo steals march on X-Box
E3
60,000 people have visited the E3 show
Nintendo is aiming to steal a march on its rival by launching its GameCube console three days before Microsoft markets its first ever games console.

The GameCube will hit US shelves on 5 November, swiftly followed by Microsoft's X-Box.

Both companies have been causing a buzz at the E3 show in Los Angeles where the two have dominated along with Sony's PlayStation 2.

The rivalry has increased as Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony show off the capabilities of their new machines.

While the X-Box and The GameCube have snatched the headlines, the PlayStation 2 has shown the others what they have to achieve to steal the market lead.

Exciting

According to Dr David Lau Kee, chief executive of UK-based company Criterion, the competition between the big three has made this year's E3 the most exciting ever.

E3 is the biggest show of its kind and is an important platform for all technology companies for both networking and eyeing up competitors.

X-Box
X-Box: Battle with Nintendo ahead
Criterion is one of the biggest middleware companies in the world, helping games developers build faster and more advanced games.

It has the advantage of working across all formats so it is involved with developers creating games for Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft.

Dr Lau Kee said: "The feeling is that the PlayStation 2 will continue to drive forward the market with great games in the coming months.

"What we are now looking at is what will come a creditable second. The jury is still out on this one.

Strong products

"The competition is always going to be driven by the quality of the games."

Joe Fielder, site director of the San Francisco-based Gamespot website, told BBC News Online: "It has been a really exciting E3 show because all of the big three console companies, Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, have had equal showings.

Nintendo GameCube
GameCube: First display of capability at E3
"It feels like each company has really strong products and titles coming out.

"All three have made strong announcements and no one company has been able to make a bigger splash than the others."

Microsoft announced it would be selling in X-Box console in North America with a $299 (208) price tag but Nintendo has yet to reveal its figure.

Finance experts at Merrill Lynch believe it could be as low as $249 (173), with Sony eventually slashing its price to $199 (138).

Online gaming

Sony, which has already shipped 10 million PlayStation 2 consoles, announced key online agreements with AOL, Realplayer and Telewest, the UK cable operator.

Nintendo unveiled its GameCube, which is aimed at a slighter younger market, and industry professionals were able to play games on the machine for the first time.

"The Nintendo booth has definitely been the most crowded," said Mr Fielder.

"Most of us in the industry have already seen new titles on the PlayStation 2 and X-Box, but it was the first time we had a chance to play GameCube titles."

Mr Fielder said he expected online gaming to hold the key to the future success of each console.

He said: "3D gaming was the big step up of the last generation of consoles and online gaming looks set to be the big step up for this generation."

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See also:

16 May 01 | New Media
X-Box for Christmas
16 May 01 | New Media
Playstation 2 steps up its game
30 Mar 01 | New Media
X-Box steals the show
29 Mar 01 | Business
Microsoft's X-Box goes online
21 Mar 01 | Business
Nintendo launches new GameBoy
31 Jan 01 | Business
Sega scraps the Dreamcast
16 May 01 | New Media
Console wars at E3 show
07 Jan 01 | Business
Gates unveils Playstation rival
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