"Store shelves are just running very dry," Nintendo (7974.OS) spokeswoman Perrin Kaplan told Reuters. "I'd say about 50 percent of our stores are out."
The GameCube, Nintendo's fourth entry into the console gaming market, was released in the United States in Nov. 2001 but struggled to gain market share in the face of heavy competition from market leader Sony Corp. (Tokyo:6758.T - News) and new entrant Microsoft Corp. (NasdaqNM:MSFT - News).
A number of publishers curtailed or stopped production on GameCube games and the Japanese company, faced with excess inventory and sales far below its expectations, temporarily halted production of the gaming machine.
That marked a fall from grace for Nintendo, which at one point had a virtual lock on the U.S. console market, until Sony came along with the PlayStation in the mid-1990s and loosened the grasp of the company that introduced a generation of kids to characters like Mario the plumber and Donkey Kong.
But a price cut on the GameCube to $99 from $149 last September reinvigorated sales. Kaplan said January hardware sales were up 60 percent year-over-year, while January software sales were up 101 percent.
"We're getting as much inventory as we can from other territories and making sure that Japan has production ramped at maximum to feed the need," Kaplan said.
Nintendo recently confirmed that it was working on its next-generation console, with an expected launch some time in 2006. Sony and Microsoft are also expected to have new hardware by then.