Nintendo's GameCube console will launch on May 3rd in Europe, backed by one million units, more than 20 software titles and at an industry-busting €249 (£150) price tag. As many expect the PlayStation 2 to drop to £150 at some point this year, this move creates an interesting rift between relatively the inexpensive GameCube and PlayStation 2, and the much more expensive Xbox. The PlayStation 2 stands to do well; it's DVD-playing capability becoming an important aspect of the package once again. Indeed, with £330 the cost of a DVD-playing Xbox, consumers may shy way from the more expensive Microsoft console, and it will make matters more difficult for the Redmond-based console debutant, especially in the home entertainment centre department, where its rumoured HomeStation device hopes to thrive. If Microsoft aims to make its mark this Christmas, it may have to take another financial blow and lower the Xbox price to £250 or less. Meanwhile, Microsoft has a better outlook in the States, where it still costs the same as a Sony PlayStation 2 and Nintendo's GameCube sells on its own merits £100 below. Planned price cuts may come into play later this year. Microsoft is also rumoured to be working on an Xbox revision, which would help cut costs in the long run. Thanks to Nintendo's unique position in the market place, its GameCube stands to make more money than either of its main rivals. Market share is almost a moot point. Not even the Xbox can hope to topple the PlayStation 2 without a price shift, though, and even then it's debatable whether or not it can catch up with Sony's black box. The question of the Internet remains. PlayStation 2 will feature Internet (broadband and narrowband) capability soon enough, with network connectivity to boot. This puts it in the same position as the Xbox, but if Microsoft stand firm on the issue of keyboards, mice and actual web access, it will take over in the functionality department. E-mail and internet access are no enemies of Sony - Microsoft wants to avoid being categorized as a cheap-PC-in-a-box. Nintendo continues to do its own thing, and whether it makes sense or not, it still makes us go all giggly. Whether we'll need Xboxes to sit amongst our PlayStations and GameCubes later this year, Microsoft has yet to show us. Related Feature - May 3rd, £150, GameCube
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