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Yamauchi on GBA: Shortages, Sega, Square

by Max Lake - January 28, 2001, 11:54 pm EST
Source: Bloomberg News

Yamauchi speaks; the world listens.

Desmond Gaban informed me that NCL has just issued a press release to Bloomberg Japan from President Hiroshi Yamauchi. We have linked the English version of the release above. Yamauchi has let it be known that Nintendo has received 2.7 million orders for highly anticipated GBA. Nintendo will ship 1 million units of its new handheld when the GBA launches on March 21st. Although Nintendo plans to ship close to 25 million GBAs worldwide by March 2002, it still leaves 1.7 pre-orders going unfilled on launch day in Japan.

This makes me think of the U.S. launch of the PS2—and that gives me shivers. If you’ll remember, Sony promised 1 million consoles for launch, an insufficient amount to fill all pre-orders. Just before launch, Sony let it be known it would only be deliver half of its original figure, 500,000, making it even harder to get systems. I don’t expect Nintendo to come up short a la Sony, though this could be worse; nearly 2/3 of the total people who pre-ordered are going be bummed. It looks like GBA may not be as easy to import as we would like & we can expect prices to increase (not decrease) as the Japanese launch gets closer. With Nintendo producing tons upon tons of Game Boy Advances, let’s hope any shortages are short-lived.

Not surprisingly, GBA games are also selling well, with 1.4 million pre-orders for four of the Nintendo-developed launch titles. Twenty more software titles will be released in the first two weeks after the device hits stores, Yamauchi said.

``I expect Game Boy Advance hardware and software sales to be quite good,'' Yamauchi said.

On top of this news, Yamauchi stated that Sega Corporation would indeed be providing software for the Game Boy Advance. Although Sega rumors were flying around crazier than ever last week, this is something we were expecting. Nintendo admitted Sega might do GBA games in light of the holiday rumor that it would be buying Sega. Sega reaffirmed this last week when it said it was in talks to supply software to both Nintendo and Sony (for GBA & PS2, respectively).

Oddly enough, Yamauchi revisited the Sega buyout rumor, repeating Nintendo has no such plan to do so and added that such an action would be far too risky due to Sega’s bleak financial outlook.

``If Sega scraps its hardware operations, there will be certain costs to do that and a variety of negative aspects will emerge,'' Yamauchi said. Sega ``has to do it with help from CSK (Sega's largest shareholder) and help from (Sega president) Mr. (Isao) Okawa. That will take time.''

It sounds although Nintendo won’t be buying Sega, Yamauchi could be interested in the company—provided it survives the transition from hardware to working on game development exclusively. I don’t think it’s too far fetched to expect Sega games on GameCube either.

And if all of this wasn’t enough, there is a part in the press release concerning Square (not mentioned in the English translation). I decided to ask Planet’s two Japanese translators how they interpreted the news. Desmond told me Yamauchi said “there is no chance that Square will develop for GBA.” Dragona seemed unclear, but had a more positive interpretation: “What was said was that they had the liberty to make a contract/agreement. The possibilty though is low. I don't think it's an outright ‘f**k you square.’” She was quick to add: “I'd go with Des on this though. I haven't slept. I couldn't get his context but remember, this is Yamauchi; if he has an opinion, he'll bloody well air it.”

Many of you may be wondering what gives… Desmond recently informed me that one of his sources in Japan told him that Square have already applied to GBA development awhile back and were rejected by Nintendo. Why? Apparently, there is a clause that GBA developers must have worked on GBC game. Because Square have not, they were exempt. This may explain why Square’s Final Fantasy remakes have been on the WonderSwan thus far—and provide some insight to Square’s recently statement: “we will do our best to provide software for the Nintendo console.”

Reasons could be more personal too. Many are already of the opinion that Nintendo is doing this simply to get back at Square. I don’t know what gives Nintendo the right, though I wouldn’t put something like this past Yamauchi. Personally though, if it’s an either/or situation, I’m glad we got Sega over Square.

Wow. A lot of incredible news all at once. We’re sure you have something to say about these developments. Hit the talkback, or continue the conversation in our forums.

Update: Desmond let me know that the info about Square and the GBA is a rumor only obviously. We can only guess what's going on behind the scenes.

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