The console was first released in Japan on June 23, 1996. Though the initial shipment of 300,000 units sold out on the first day, Nintendo successfully avoided a repeat of the Super Famicom launch day pandemonium, in part by using a wider retail network which included convenience stores. The remaining 200,000 units of the first production run shipped on June 26 and 30, with almost all of them reserved ahead of time. In the months between the Japanese and North American launches, the Nintendo 64 saw brisk sales on the American gray market, with import stores charging as much as $699 plus shipping for the system. The Nintendo 64 was first sold in North America on September 26, 1996, though having been advertised for the 29th. It was launched with just two games in the United States, Pilotwings 64 and Super Mario 64; Cruis'n USA was pulled from the line-up less than a month before launch because it did not meet Nintendo's quality standards. In 1994, prior to the launch, Nintendo of America chairman Howard Lincoln emphasized the quality of first-party games, saying ". . . we're convinced that a few great games at launch are more important than great games mixed in with a lot of dogs". : 77 The PAL version of the console was released in Europe on March 1, 1997, except for France where it was released on September 1 of the same year. According to Nintendo of America representatives, Nintendo had been planning a simultaneous launch in Japan, North America, and Europe, but market studies indicated that worldwide demand for the system far exceeded the number of units they could have ready by launch, potentially leading to consumer and retailer frustration.
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