Nintendo kicked off its E3 press conference by citing strong recent sales figures, and emphasizing the GameBoy Advance's role in the next generation of GameCube titles.
NOA Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications George Harrison cited an NPD Funworld report that showed a March sales surge in both hardware and software, with 58 percent of total system sales going to Nintendo in March.
Nintendo executives also emphasized the GameCube and GameBoy Advance link throughout the product line, pressing the large GBA installed base, which Harrison cited as 950,000 units sold. Nintendo President Satoru Iwata stated that there more than 20 of the GameCube titles on display at the show taking advantage of the link capabilities between the GameCube and the GBA. Sims creator Will Wright announced two new Sims games from EA that will use the GameCube-GBA connection, and a multiplayer Pac Man game from Namco also highlighted the portable and console connection.
In answer to Sony's announcement of the PlayStation Portable handheld game system, Iwata was confident, noting a late 2004 ship date for Sony's portable system. "We are essentially in control of the handheld market…there isn't anything we need to worry about."
Also in the lineup is the GameBoy Player, scheduled to ship in North America on June 23 for $49.99. The Player allows gamers to play GameBoy and GameBoy Advance games through the high-speed port on the GameCube.
Iwata also emphasized the role of the GameCube as the system with the broadest appeal. Looking at the popular success of the M-rated Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, Iwata said, "Our industry has to ask itself 'How much further are we willing to go?'"
Iwata also noted Nintendo's growing creative capacity with the expansion of creative teams in the company's Kyoto headquarters, a new branch in Tokyo, and a new third-party outreach program that is just beginning to bear fruit with the Triforce initiatve co-developed with Sega and Namco, as well as development programs with Electronic Arts, Square-Enix, and Konami.
Looking to the future, Iwata was coy. "The successor to the