Nintendo has not shelved its plans for another next-generation console, despite countless net-based reports that sprang up overnight after somebody dug out a copy of Nihon Keizai Shimbun and wet themselves.
Following a rash of stories which characterised the above article as everything from Nintendo's withdrawal from the console race to confirmation they would be third out of the blocks, and in 2007, so many guns were jumped that spokespeople for both Nintendo of America and Nintendo Japan leapt into action, refuting claims on all sides.
The initial confusion seemingly arose after the Japanese newspaper quoted Nintendo president Satoru Iwata commenting that "Customers are fully satisfied with the performance of the current [GameCube] model," before revealing a series of planned hardware peripherals for our little purple joyboxes due for release over the next two years.
Somehow that was misinterpreted as Nintendo deciding to forgo the release of a next-generation console in order to focus on the GameCube. We even had analysts popping up and making obvious comments about how third-party interest would drop off significantly when Xbox 2 and PS3 established themselves and GameCube became significantly technologically inferior, despite their apparent enthusiasm for Nintendo refocusing its efforts to fend off Sony PSP.
Of course when somebody finally spoke to Nintendo about the article, the platform holder shot its top. NOA director of PR Beth Llewellyn told GameSpot "much of the Nikkei article is speculation," claiming that Iwata's comments were taken out of context from a prior interview, "and not in direct response to the subjects raised in the article."
The truth of the matter seems to be that Nintendo doesn't plan to launch a new games console in the next couple of years, which surely ties in with projections that we wouldn't see anything before 2006 anyway. Furthermore, Nintendo has reiterated that it doesn't plan to focus on "chasing after technology" and is working on a successor, with Llewellyn flying the flag in the West.
"We are staying in the hardware business. We're working on our next generation console system and it will launch it at the same time as our competitors," she said, even cooling suggestions that Nintendo would be third to market. "We're in this business for the long term. We're not getting out of the hardware business," she added.
Meanwhile her Japanese colleague Yasuhiro Minagawa was responding in similar fashion to Reuters. "Other companies aren't expected to come out with next-generation consoles until late 2005 or 2006, and Nintendo will be launching its next-generation unit around the same time," he said last night.
In terms of what we can expect from the next Nintendo console, dubbed N5 in media circles, Llewellyn reiterated the company line. "Our focus remains entertainment and gameplay versus chasing after technology that doesn't truly enhance the gameplay experience," she said. Maybe not the wisest comment to make a month after launching a potentially gimmick-driven portable with few vocal supporters, but at least it's consistent.
Right then. With all that out of the way, perhaps we're in a better position to talk about the real meat of the story - Nintendo's plans for GameCube over the next couple of years. (Cripes, sometimes it feels like an extremely good thing that we wake up after the Yanks have shut down for the day.) More on Nintendo's Cube plans in a little while...