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Thursday, 2 May, 2002, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
GameCube gets midnight launch
Sarah Dodd claims her console
The first console was handed over at midnight
The battle for supremacy in the video game market is set to hot up with the launch of Nintendo's latest console, the GameCube, in Europe.

The colourful games machine is the third and final entrant into the lucrative market, and Nintendo hopes its lower price and range of games will help it challenge Sony's Playstation 2 and Microsoft's Xbox.

Console wars
Xbox
UK price: 199
GameCube
UK price: 129
PlayStation 2
UK price: 199
More than 50,000 gamers in the UK had placed advance orders, and a number of stores in the UK opened their doors at midnight on Thursday for the launch.

In London, the first console was claimed by 19-year-old Sarah Dodd, from Clapham.

The self-confessed "games addict" was rewarded for her 16-hour wait with a free GameCube and a clutch of games.

"I came with a friend and I feel a little bad that I was number one and he was number two," she said. "But I will let him play some of my games."

She added: "This is the one time I am extremely odd, most of the year I am normal."

Nintendo recently announced a price cut for the console in Europe, making it available for 199 euros (129) - 70 cheaper than its rivals.

It is not the most powerful of the machines, but is being aimed at people who prefer the gaming experience to the added extras.

Its rivals can do things like play CDs and DVDs - but the GameCube will just be for playing games.

GameCube
GameCube costs 129
"The hardware is somewhat irrelevant," David Gosen, managing director of Nintendo Europe, told BBC News Online.

"It's not what goes into the box that's important, it's the gaming experience that comes out of it."

The company is investing 61.7m in promoting the GameCube across Europe.

"Europe is a very important market for Nintendo and we are committed to making it a success," Mr Gosen said.

Nintendo expects to sell one million GameCubes in the continent in the first two months.

Gamers who wanted to get their hands on one the minute they were released headed for HMV stores in London, Birmingham and Glasgow, which were opening at midnight.

There will be 20 games available at launch, rising to 50 by the summer, Mr Gosen said.

Price cuts

The console market is estimated to be worth 10bn across the world.

Sony
Sony are the market leaders
Sony is the market leader with the Playstation 2, and Microsoft says it expects to sell between 4.5 and six million Xboxes worldwide by the end of 2002.

The GameCube was originally expected to sell in Europe for 150 - but cut its price less than two weeks before hitting shops.

The move came after Microsoft stepped up their efforts to win customers by cutting the price of their Xbox by 100 to 199 just weeks it launched in Europe.

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 ON THIS STORY
David Gosen, Nintendo's European Managing Director
"The key determinant of success for any player in this market is... the quality of the games"
Nintendo's David Gosen
"We want to do nothing else but allow game players to play great games"
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