Nintendo GameCube, for all the nostalgia-fueled love it gets, was Nintendo’s least successful home console of all time, selling less hardware (21.74 million units) and software (208.57 million units) than any other home console in Nintendo’s history. As such, Microsoft essentially stopped viewing them as valid competition. According to Peter Moore, the former Microsoft Vice President and head of Xbox from 2003 to 2007, when the company was designing Xbox 360 and preparing for its launch, they were solely focused on competing with Sony and “completely discounted Nintendo.”
Peter Moore: I also then remember the E3 when, God bless, Kaz Hirai and Jack Tretton announced $599, and we were all back stage like ‘Woohoo!” We knew then we had an opportunity to get ahead, drive ahead, get our games out quickly and get that lead. And I always said that the first to 10 million wins.
It was one of the greatest times of my career. You had to build a team, because we were growing then. We had prematurely put the Xbox to sleep, we needed to get ready for this and we knew what we needed to do. We had a three-day meeting at the Sheraton in Bellevue where we wargamed the scenario, and I actually played Ken Kutaragi. And we brought in a consultancy, it was a lot of fun. And the one thing we’d forgotten about, I don’t know if you remember this Phil [Spencer], we completely discounted Nintendo. Because they came off the GameCube and it was a disaster.
Phil Spencer: …and they destroyed both of us!
Peter Moore: Yes, with the Wii. But we wargamed for three days, what are you going to do, what do the launch titles look like, what are the marketing budgets, what is the positioning? And it was a fascinating experience which I’ll never forget. And this is a decade ago. And I actually played Ken, and my job was to destroy the launch of the Xbox 360.
While it’s understandable that Moore thought Nintendo couldn’t recover from the poor sales of GameCube, that’s not how it turned out. Nintendo’s least successful home console was followed by their most successful one, as Wii sold over 100 million units, beating both Xbox 360 and PlayStation in global sales.