Saturday, November 11, 2006
PlayStation 3 Sells Out At Jap Launch.
Electronics stores in Japan have sold out of PlayStation 3 consoles after thousands of gamers queued for hours in the cold to buy them.
Large queues meant some shoppers were turned away even before stores opened at 0700 local time (2100 GMT).
The console officially went on sale on 11 November but Sony only made 100,000 machines available on launch day.
Instead of opening at midnight, stores organised lotteries to decide who in the queue would get a long-awaited PS3.
Outside Bic Camera's flagship Tokyo store more than 1,000 people queued for their chance to buy a PlayStation 3.
Shop attendants with microphones warned impatient customers that sales would end if there were any injuries.
"Standing in line today is the only way to make sure I got one," said Takayuki Sato, 30.
Tomoaki Nakamura, 41, said: "I've been waiting for this day to come for so long. I'll play it all through the weekend. No time for meals,"
The head of Sony's game unit head, Ken Kutaragi, known as "the father of the PlayStation", expressed his gratitude to those who had waited.
"I hope you will enjoy the next-generation entertainment to your heart's content," he said.
The company said it would be a few days before they knew whether all retailers had sold out of all their PS3 consoles.
Earlier, bloggers catalogued the numbers of people waiting outside stores.
Brian Ashcraft who toured electronics stores in Tokyo for game blog Kotaku described the scene as "organised chaos".
The BBC News website also received e-mail messages from those queuing outside stores.
The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is being sold in two configurations. The more expensive version has a 60GB hard drive and wi-fi on board and costs, in Japan, 60,000 yen (£270). The cheaper version has a 20GB hard drive, lacks the wi-fi and will cost 49,980 yen (£222). European prices are expected to be higher than direct comparisons suggest.
Both versions include a wireless controller, a Blu-ray high-definition DVD drive and a port so they can work with a high-definition display. Buying a PS3 also gives owners free access to the online PlayStation Network where they can meet and take on other gamers.
Sony expects five games to be available at launch including Ridge Racer 7, Mobile Suit Gundam: Target in Sight, Genji, and Resistance: Fall of Man.
Like other next-generation consoles the PS3 offers gamers much more detailed graphics than ever before. The IBM-developed Cell chip inside the console uses seven separate processing cores which can be used to make the physics in game worlds more realistic and allow computer-controlled enemies to behave with great sophistication.
"The image quality is so superb you'd almost think it's a real movie," gamer Hisafumi Funato said after trying it out at a demonstration event in downtown Tokyo. "I want one, especially if I don't have to stand in a long line".
The PlayStation 3 was originally supposed to go on sale in early 2006 but production problems and shortages of key components forced a delay. The European launch of the console has been pushed back to March 2007.
This has also meant that there are only 100,000 consoles for gamers in Japan. Sony said 400,000 will be available for the US launch on 17 November. Despite the shortages, Sony said it was confident of shipping six million PS3s by the end of March 2007.
Although Sony has dominated home console gaming since the launch of the first PlayStation in 1994 its lead is under greater threat than ever before. Arch-rival Microsoft released its Xbox 360 console in November 2005. By the end of 2006 Microsoft hopes to have sold about 10 million Xbox 360s.
Also due to launch in November is Nintendo's Wii console which is far cheaper than the PlayStation 3 or the Xbox 360. It goes on sale in the US on 19 November.
Analysts expect Sony to lose money on every console sold for some time to come.