The PlayStation 3 will easily be one of this year's most sought after
items. With American gamers putting
their lives on hold for almost two weeks to wait in line until the November
17 launch, anticipation is at an all-time high. For Japanese gamers, however,
the wait is over.
Sony's new console launched in Japan today, and was met with extensive
lineups worthy of a human/ant farm colony simulation. Hundreds, if not
thousands, of gamers queued outside Yodobashi and Bic Camera stores (big box
retailers equivalent to our Best Buy or Frys) the night before the release hoping
to purchase a console. Japanese retailers typically do not offer midnight
releases, those in line for the console would have to wait until the morning.
For a peek at what the scene looked like during queuing hours, watch these videoclips from
Yodabashi Umeda in Osaka.
Even with only 80,000 consoles expected for launch, gamers still lined up
even if their chances of getting a PS3 were slim. According to GameSpot, the
Yodabashi Camera store in Akihabara cleared the street clutter by moving over
1,500 waiting customers into an underground parking garage at a still-early 1:30
Mind you, the Yodabashi location in Akihabara is like Toys 'R' Us in Times
Square - it's a premiere location - with a relatively amazing 1,980
consoles for the store. And thus, everyone in the Yodabashi parking garage at
that time would be able to purchase a console in the morning. Supplies were much
thinner at other locations, with smaller gaming shops only receiving between
10-20 units. Even other Yodabashi Camera stores in majors centers such as
Shinjuku received at most half of Akihabara's allocation. Store managers had to
bring in an additional 200 employees and hire guards to handle the buyers.
"Even if we had 4,000 we'd still sell out today," Yodabashi Akihabara store
manager Shinichi Adachi said. "I'd like to know when we'll get another delivery
from Sony, but they're not saying."
The 20GB PS3 sold for 49,980 yen (approx. $424) and the 60GB PS3, which
carried no official MSRP, commonly sold for 62,700 yen (approx. $533).
Interestingly enough, a black market developed for PlayStation 3. Console
demand has been so strong that Japanese consumers were paying nearly three times
retail pricing for pre-order slips, similar to the situation here
in North America. What's different (or perhaps untapped) is that homeless
men were paid to join the line ups in an effort for scheming individuals to
circumvent the "limit one per customer" rule.
Needless to say, all of Japan was completely sold out of PlayStation 3 by the
end of the morning. Gamers of all ages and walks of life, albeit predominantly
male, had a few things to say about the experience.
"When Sony announced the Playstation 3 I really wanted one, but thought I
should wait because of the high price," 25 year-old Akihiro Okawa, who was first
in line at Yodabashi Akihabara, said. "When they cut the price, I decided to go
"I've been waiting for this day to come for so long. I'll play it all through
the weekend. No time for meals," said
Tomoaki Nakamura, 41, who already owns all the Sony systems and an Xbox 360.
"This is like a festival," said
Takahiro Watabe, 23, as he looked at the line of buyers as long as an entire
city block. "I don’t think the new PlayStation is too expensive. If you consider
it has a Blu-Ray drive, you can use it as a DVD player as well as a game
One female shopper, however, was less enthusiastic about the console's launch.
Natsuki Inoue, 27, felt that PlayStation 3 is designed to appeal to younger
"This is a toy for men," she said, as a screen flashed an image of a woman in
an iron bikini cleaving a dragon’s head. "It’s hard to imagine women or children
wanting this. It’s just too much."
In a very Gatesy move, PlayStation father and president/CEO of SCEI Ken
Kutaragi made an appearance at Bic Camera outlet in Tokyo's Yurakucho district
to hand a console to the first customer in line, who was reportedly from China.
"I am so happy so many people are waiting," Kutaragi said to the crowd.
"Thank you for waiting from late last night. Please enjoy next-generation