A number of Nintendo Gamecube developers are now able to begin translating concept sketches to pixels, and gameplay ideas to machine code. The company has shipped over 500 fully-functional development kits to developers, first-, second-, and third-party alike. The kits have been trickling out for the last several weeks, being shipped as quickly as ATI/ArtX can finish them, but this is the first indication as to the number of kits made available.
Between 50 and 150 are estimated to remain in-house at Nintendo headquarters, with the rest shipping out to second and third parties. For now, the development hardware is still restricted to big-name developers. This is an unfortunate, but sensible decision given the manufacturing pace. That will, however, change late next month, when smaller development houses will get their chance to test-drive the development kits. It's going to be a merry Christmas for Game Cube makers.