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PS2 sales highlight Sony's challenge as PS3 debuts in Japan

Buyers queue for hours, stores sell out

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Sony's PlayStation 3 got off to a brisk start this weekend when the next-generation games console made its Japanese debut. Reports from around the Net claim numerous retailers sold out of PS3s, but since none would say how many they had to sell, the value of the claim remains dubious.

Sony in the past said it would be shipping 100,000 PS3s into Japan for the console's introduction - not a big number in games-machine roll-out terms, and a lot less than the number of Wiis Nintendo is expected to ship for its launch on 2 December.

Reuters and others reported thousand-person queues lining up in front of Tokyo PS3 stockists in the cold, November morning this past Saturday. Ken 'Father of the PlayStation' Kutaragi was on hand to welcome them ahead of the 7am kick-off and to help Sony make the most of a media opportunity it so desperately needs to go its way. Some eager buyers spent up to 12 hours in line, reports claimed.

The PS3 is due to launch in the US on 17 November, but Europeans will have to wait until March 2007. That leaves Sony Computer Entertainment Europe limited to promoting the PS2 during the key Christmas sales period. On Friday, SCEE announced it has shipped more than 40m PS2s - a million more units than the original PlayStation and its derivatives.

And that's just Europe. Adding in the US and Japan will more than double that figure.

The success of the PS2 highlights just how much is riding on the PS3, and the pressure on Sony to get the next-generation machine right. ®

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