At no other time in history has the videogame business been more competitive than in the year 2000. Sega came to market with its Dreamcast system at the end of 1999, Sony introduced its PlayStation 2 in Japan in March and then out of nowhere Microsoft announced it was entering the videogame wars with a new system called X-Box. All the major players had shown their cards except for the one company who had been in the business from the beginning, Nintendo.
The industry’s major trade show, the Electronic Entertainment Expo, came and went with no news of Nintendo’s new hardware system as Sony geared up to launch the PlayStation 2 in the United States. Finally at a Nintendo-only event called Spaceworld in Japan, the curtain was finally lifted on the Nintendo GameCube.
One specific media outlet on the Nintendo GameCube media plan that proved to be a very challenging pitch was the highly respected videogame publication– Next Generation. It was extremely difficult to get any type of major coverage on Nintendo GameCube in Next Generation because: a.) the editors from the magazine had been trying unsuccessfully for months to get any sort of information from Nintendo b.) the timing of the Nintendo GameCube unveiling came at the same time Sony was ready to launch its PlayStation 2 system in America  c.) due to the absence of information, a misperception was growing in the industry that Nintendo had lost its edge and was now strictly battling to be a secondary player  d.) Nintendo’s parent company in Japan typically does not conduct proactive media outreach, especially to foreign press
Our overall media strategy for the unveiling of Nintendo GameCube was not only to capture the mainstream media’s attention, but also to convince our key audiences in the videogame industry that our products are superior.  Placement in the #1 trade monthly Next Generation was a primary goal of this media outreach.
We started our plans for a feature article in Next Generation by conducting research.  By monitoring the magazine each month and keeping in constant communication with the editors, we knew what type of coverage a new video videogame system could achieve. The goal was to work with the magazine to produce a cover story on the Nintendo GameCube. In order to do so, there were certain requirements that need to be filled which included:

  • Hosting the editorial staff at the invite-only unveiling event in Japan
  • Giving the editors access to technical information on the new system
  • Offering interviews with key Nintendo executives from Japan and America
  • Conducting an exclusive interview with Nintendo’s lead game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Providing access to art and graphics to help illustrate the story
The situation remained difficult, but the editorial staff of Next Generation finally committed to a full feature article in the November issue.  In mid-October, a Next Generation cover story on Nintendo GameCube hit newsstands and arrived in subscriber’s mailboxes.
One of the reasons this placement should be considered a major victory is the fact that the story came during a period in the video game industry when the majority of media focus was on the Sony PlayStation 2. While the majority of videogame magazines featured Sony’s product on their covers, Next Generation stood out from the pack with Nintendo GameCube on the cover. The issue was on newsstands exactly two weeks before Sony introduced the PlayStation 2 to retail on October 26. The cover story ran a full calendar year before the system is scheduled to launch in America.
Other highlights of the story in Next Generation include:
  • The cover:  A 3D computer generated render of the Nintendo GameCube system in the hands of Nintendo’s long time mascot, Mario
  • The story highlights Nintendo’s powerful announcement: “The blow is still ringing in the ears of game industry execs weeks after the announcement.”
  • Favorable quote from a major competitor:  “I think the characters looked amazing. They (Nintendo) really kick ass at that.”
  • An exclusive interview with Nintendo’s master game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto
  • Favorable quote from major game developer: “They are focused on the fun and will maintain it at all cost.”
The article met many of our branding objectives because it contained several of our key messages for Nintendo GameCube including:
  • Nintendo continues to be the worldwide leader of interactive entertainment
  • Nintendo GameCube is designed first and foremost to play great games
  • Game Boy Advance is the next generation of handheld players and will work in conjunction with Nintendo GameCube
  • A profile of the Nintendo GameCube controller, an integral part of the system
True entertainment and fun are what consumers are really looking for in a new videogame system