Former Nintendo of America VP of Marketing Perrin Kaplan talks about Nintendo’s internal disagreements over the now-iconic GameCube color purple.


Purple GameCube and Controller

November 2021 has turned out to be a busy month when it comes to important gaming birthdays. Skyrim turned ten on the 11th, with Halo and Xbox hit twenty on the 15th. The Nintendo GameCube also hit the two-decade mark, celebrating the twentieth anniversary of its U.S. release on November 18.

Earlier today, a former Nintendo executive spoke about the release of the now twenty-year-old console. She revealed that GameCube’s iconic color is quite controversial within Nintendo, with some parts of the company voicing concerns about the console’s purple pigmentation.

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Several former Nintendo employees recently told Video Games Chronicle about the company’s last two decades. Among them was Perrin Kaplan, former vice president of marketing and corporate affairs for Nintendo of America. She revealed that the US branch isn’t a fan of the GameCube’s purple plastic, pushing for a black or silver console. However, Hiroshi Yamauchi, then president of Nintendo, overturned the decision. While Nintendo would eventually roll out white, black, silver, and orange versions, purple remains GameCube’s iconic color.

Silver GameCube with Wavebird Wireless Controller

According to Kaplan, Nintendo of America was concerned that the color purple was too “feminine” for a console marketed primarily to boys. The American branch was also concerned because it was the first purple console released in the United States. Kaplan recalls feeling nervous when Nintendo unveiled the console at E3 2001, fearing the press would laugh at the GameCube for its unusual appearance. While most of those fears turned out to be unfounded, some argued that the console’s appearance was doing it a disservice.

The Nintendo GameCube eventually sold around 22 million units in its lifetime, ranking third behind its main rivals, the PlayStation 2 and the Original Xbox. It also sold around 10 million units less than its predecessor, the Nintendo 64. There were several reasons for the GameCube’s comparatively poor performance, and its appearance may have been one of them. Nintendo’s console struggled to shake off the unfair perception that it was meant for children. This was due to a combination of the appearance of the GameCube, Nintendo’s existing reputation, and the company’s general game design philosophies.

On the other hand, it was not a console free from other handicaps. For example, the GameCube had relatively few big exclusives and was too reliant on proprietary titles. The latter was at least in part due to Nintendo’s use of “Microdisk” mini DVDs, which had reduced capacity and prevented the GameCube from functioning as a DVD player. It was also the only console of its generation that did not support a certain level of online functionality.

Still, the console was hardly a total flop and many players still fondly remember it. It also housed many great titles, like the original Luigi’s mansion. Still, Nintendo of America might not have been entirely wrong to worry about GameCube appearance.

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Source: Chronicle of video games


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