Queues of gamers eager to get their hands on the PlayStation 3 console from Sony Computer Entertainment (SCEI) have begun forming outside Tokyo electronics stores that plan to begin selling the machine on Saturday morning.
The first gamers began arriving outside Asobit City in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district about 16 hours ahead of the launch, and that evening at Bic Camera in the Yurakucho district, a crowd of about 200 people had gathered. Bic Camera will host the main launch of the console at 7 a.m. (10 p.m. GMT Friday), and SCEI President Ken Kutaragi will be in attendance to sell the first console.
The store isn’t letting gamers queue up until about two hours before the launch. The rule was apparently made in an attempt to stop people from arriving too early, but it’s just had the effect of pushing the crowd on to the other side street opposite the store. The shop has 600 PlayStation 3 consoles available, according to a rumor that swept the crowd; how it will decide who out of the unorganized bunch gets one should there be a shortage is unknown.
Most other stores have resorted to a lottery system to decide who gets to walk away with the console. In most cases, customers are being asked to turn up between 9 and 10 a.m. to collect a ticket, with sales for the lucky ones beginning at 11 a.m.
Boasting high-definition graphics and a Blu-ray Disc drive, the PlayStation 3 is Sony’s first new game console in more than six years. The console will come in two versions: One with a 60GB hard-disk drive will also include wireless LAN support and will cost around 59,980 yen (US$510), while a second version with a 20GB hard disk and no wireless LAN will cost about 49,980 yen.
International sales of the console will kick off on Nov. 17, with launches in North America, Hong Kong and Taiwan. European consumers won’t be able to get their hands on a console until around March 2007, according to Sony’s current plans.