Nintendo

Nintendo of America’s former VP of marketing: GameCube’s purple colour choice was a bad idea

It is hard to believe but the classic GameCube is now twenty years old. The system which launched in 2001 had some excellent Nintendo content such as Luigi’s Mansion, Super Smash Bros Melee, Star Wars Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, and more, but some gamers at the time were put off with the vibrant purple colour choice and almost child-like design.

To celebrate the GameCube’s 20th anniversary, VGC has spoken to Perrin Kaplan, who was VP of marketing at Nintendo of America at the time, who told them that the PR and marketing teams at Nintendo of America were not happy with the default purple colour choice and they informed Nintendo Japan of this. However, as the Japanese branch has the final say on what goes, Nintendo of America were basically told, ‘nope, the company is going with this’. Nintendo of America wanted to have a Black GameCube and a Silver GameCube at launch, as they thought that the purple GameCube looked to feminine at the time and they were nervous that it would be slated at E3 based on the system’s colour.

“We actually suggested that the purple was not the best to start with and (Japan) said, ‘no, we’re going to use that.’ Then we pushed for black and silver, because I think in the US nobody had ever really done the purple color before. It wasn’t that you couldn’t bring out hardware that was a different color, it was just a very… ‘female’ looking color. It just didn’t feel masculine, I think. I remember us being very nervous at E3 that we were going to get bad press purely based on the color.”

Perrin Kaplan, Nintendo’s former VP of marketing and corporate affairs

“This pre-dates Apple. Picking your color these days is like making a statement. But back then all the game systems were black… even white hadn’t really been done widely. Nintendo was never a technology story, but we were always combating what our competitors at Sony and Microsoft were doing from a PR perspective and having this purple box didn’t quite help there.”

Nintendo of America’s former director of corporate communications, Beth Llewelyn

Source / Via

27 comments

  1. Uh, no?

    First of all, it’s not even purple, it’s indigo.

    And second, it’s iconic, there is no other system that is as recognizable due to its very color, wven just seeing the color alone makes the mi d of a gamer go “Gamecube.”

    The console’s commercial failure had nothing to do with the color, it failed for the same reason all other failed consoles fail: A slow, weak catalog.

    1. Yeah, gonna have to disagree on this one. First off, purple/indigo is in no way a “feminine” looking color. Look at Japanese streetwear, car culture, tokyo design aesthetics, etc. The purple aesthetic looks damn good and stands out as unique. The gamecube is the only console that’s purple, it’s a cube, it stands out and is iconic. I don’t know anyone who thinks gamecube and first thing that comes to mind is “should’ve been silver”. Purple was the best choice, hands down.

      If you ask me, a black and silver design choice would’ve made the gamecube look like every other console with no real personality. The Wii set itself apart with the white color & blue lights theme; fitting the concept of something new and innovative for a new generation. Purple fits the gamecube’s concept of standing out and being something entirely different than the rest.

      Now, personally I think the colors that were an absolute terrible idea for the gamecube are the yellow and orange ones. I’ve always hated their color schemes with a passion lol.

      1. There was a yellow one?

        I remember the orange one because it looked like someone dumped a bottle of hot sauce all over the console, but I don’t remember any yellow Cubes…

    2. You’re saying this in hindsight. Its wasn’t “iconic” before it was revealed so that not exactly a defense you can make now is it?

    3. The colour and the design didn’t help move people away from the disingenuous idea that Nintendo games were for kids compared to Sony’s PlayStation 2 console, which was hugely popular with older consumers (at least here in the UK)

      1. Finally someone with some sense. Say what you want to say about this kiddie machine but man did it deliver on games and multiplayer. Which for me and my boys made memories while drinking. Timesplitters on a created map ftw. Mario kart drinking games! Super smash bros melee ermahgod!

    4. it fail because it was competing against the PS2, the GOAT consoles in terms of sales, the PS2 was a 2 in 1 system due to the capability to play DVD, back then it was a big deal, also it was the favorite system on japan and every third party companie preffer to develop games on the PS2 due to better perks as a publisher. nintendo instead charged very high commissions per sale due to Disc productions and licensing. they still do that to this day.

  2. Something I don’t fully understand is does this guy still think it was a bad idea or did he just think it was a bad idea at the time? Title may be misleading

    1. A bad idea at the time they were working there, obviously. They worked as head of marketing at Nintendo of America when the system launched in 2001 and their primary task was to sell it. Here in Europe we got it later but fortunately it launched in two colours (purple and black)

  3. I’m not really surprised to hear about Western reluctance.
    Oddly, the Gamecube was the first ever games console I chose to buy, having been a PC gamer for years.
    I loved the individual look and colour. Still one of my favourite controllers too.
    I recall seeing the early titles running in a game shop (Sunshine, Monkey Ball, Resident Evil etc.) and was blown away that they were running on that cute wee box.
    My kids grew up with the Cube, happy memories of 4 player split screen etc.
    I still have it in a box in the attic. I’m gonna go look at it for a bit now.

  4. First off; That’s not Purple, that’s indigo.
    Secondly; A “Feminine” colour!? Waluigi does not approve!

  5. Nonsense. The Indigo Gamecube was awesome. Definitely better than the boring Black. I’m never a fan of the black consoles. They show dust and fingerprints too much. I’ve always wished for a green console, but never got my wish (handhelds don’t count).

    1. @CFG,
      IF that reply was to me……
      But I said handhelds don’t count. I was referring to the major Nintendo consoles. Ones that can be played on a TV.

  6. You thought the purple color was a bad choice, but if you ask me, that helped it stand out more. At a time when entertainment centers were adorned with VCRs and DVD players and other game consoles that were all only shades of white, black, and grey (maybe up to 50 of that one), the purple/indigo of the Cube gave a splash of color among the monochrome.

  7. They thinking about color? Oh let’s see where should I begin?

    N64: stupid for still.making cartridges
    Wii U: Stupid for making it barely more powerful than previous generation knowing rivals was coming out with PS4 and next Xbox

    NX: Stupid for not thinking of 4K when it was in R&D and stupid for not giving it a Tegra 2 back in 2014 in R&D. And stupid for not giving it Bluetooth at launch. Stupid for not putting Miiverse, netflix and all other apps in the console. Stupid for not giving it a better virtual console at launch.

    Nintendo: stupid for not working on sequels the moment a game is finished.

      1. Lol sick burn

        But me as a customer: stupid for having way too much fun. This and the wii u were my personal favorite consoles regardless of if they sold big time or not.

    1. You act as though Nintendo is the only developer that “doesn’t immediately start working on a sequel the same day they launch the newest game in a series”. Tell me- when was the last time Sega made another NiGHTS Into Dreams game despite how beloved that series is?

      Also, your claim is patently untrue. Do you know why Breath of the Wild is getting a sequel? It’s because the dev team had so many ideas for the original game that, rather than making it all DLC, they opted to create a full new game, which means a whole new development cycle. Did they start on it immediately after BotW released? Probably not, I hope they got some vacation time, but Nintendo was not “doing nothing” with a sequel.

      Do you know anything about game development? There’s more to it than the programming part.

  8. I miss having alternate colors. If they must always do black & white console colors, at least have lights that stand out to give some color to the darn things. The blue light is starting to get old, though.

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