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Atari drops Cube versions of key titles

Publisher Atari has become the latest company to cut back on developer support for the GameCube, confirming that it has cancelled versions of Terminator 3 and Driver 3 for Nintendo's home console.

Publisher Atari has become the latest company to cut back on developer support for the GameCube, confirming that it has cancelled versions of Terminator 3 and Driver 3 for Nintendo's home console.

However, the company denied reports that it has also dropped the Cube version of the forthcoming Mission: Impossible - Operation Surma, another multi-platform title which is due in the coming months.

The news follows recent decisions by both Eidos and Acclaim to end publishing support for the GameCube, at least in the immediate future. However, the Cube still enjoys strong third party support from companies including Activision and, crucially, Electronic Arts.

Atari says that it cancelled Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines on the platform because "there simply wasn't enough time to develop the game on all three platforms," while the Driver 3 development was dropped in order to "focus the efforts of our development team on maximising the game's potential on our lead SKUs, Xbox and PS2."

The rapid flight of third party publishers from the GameCube market is interesting. Many commentators take it to indicate that the console's market share is in serious trouble, but yet recent figures have proved that it is neck and neck - and indeed possibly leading - the Xbox in terms of global installed base.

However, much of that installed base is in Japan, where companies such as Eidos, Acclaim and Atari simply don't sell very many games, while others such as Namco and Capcom, both strong supporters of the GameCube, are on their home ground.

There's also the problem that publishing cross-platform SKUs on GameCube is a risky business, simply because the system is widely seen as a "second console", with most of its owners also possessing an Xbox or, more likely, a PS2. The Cube is generally purchased on the strength of Nintendo's first party titles and a small selection of key third party titles, mostly from Japanese publishers, which means that for a third party Western publisher, the main competition on the Cube is Nintendo itself - making it incredibly difficult to make any money on the platform.

Neither of these factors are to do with Nintendo's market share or the success of the GameCube platform, which many analysts see as nothing more than a vehicle for Nintendo's software in the first place. While obviously the lack of third party support will make it harder for the GameCube to compete directly with the Xbox and PS2, the chances are that it won't affect the bottom line - namely Nintendo's handsome profit figure - in the slightest.

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Rob Fahey avatar
Rob Fahey: Rob Fahey is a former editor of GamesIndustry.biz who spent several years living in Japan and probably still has a mint condition Dreamcast Samba de Amigo set.