This weekend in Honolulu thousands of lucky gamers tested the new PS3 at a special Sony gaming expo and the overwhelming conclusion was that the PS3 which is due in Australia early next year is a big hit and a must have gaming machine.
Due to hit US stores in two weeks time, the PS3 which will be a tad under $1,000 dollars in Australia with a 50GB Blu-ray drive is facing a tough battle up against he now entrenched Microsoft Xbox 360 which has already sold 100,000 units in Australia. Also challenging for a place in the games market is the new Nintendo Wii.
At the Honolulu shootout almost all were males — from boys with braces and baggy jeans to gray-haired baby boomers.
“The graphics are crazy, way better than the second one,” said Doug Morrison, a 20-year-old University of Hawaii student. “It’s more realistic. It’s smoother. It doesn’t have any glitches.”I’m going to get one no matter what the price is.”
People looking to cash in on the high demand and limited supply are already selling their pre-reserved PS3 consoles on eBay for well over $2,000. Rights to one PS3 recently sold for $3,250, plus $50 for shipping. It received 48 bids.
Some stores began taking pre-orders on Oct. 10. At some GameStop and EB Game locations, the orders were snapped up within minutes. Harvey Norman dropped the same promotion when it was announced that the PS3 would be delayed until next year.
Kazuo Hirai, chief executive of Sony Computer Entertainment America, said about 400,000 units will be available in the U.S. in the initial launch and an additional 600,000 by the end of this year.
Sony hopes to have a total of 2 million consoles in the U.S. market by the end of company’s fiscal year, which ends in March.
“Unfortunately, there are going to be some shortages,” Hirai said in an interview. “I ask for everybody’s patience. We are pedal to the metal in terms of trying to get as many units as possible into both the Japanese and American market.”
Australia according to Sony US executives will get stock when demand in the US and Japanese markets are fulfilled. “Australia is not a high priority right now said one executive who refused to be named.
Hirai said he doesn’t even have a PS3 at home yet, even though his 12-year-old son has been begging for one. “He talks a good game about PlayStation 3 when he’s at school, but he hasn’t touched one and he hasn’t seen one,” Hirai said. “That’s only fair for everybody.”
With his back turned to Sony’s new $7,000 Bravia TV, Robert McDuffie and his buddies were glued to a much smaller screen, watching someone play the first-person shooting game “Resistance: Fall of Man.”
The 25-year-old Army sergeant said he didn’t attend the expo to check out Sony’s new line of high-definition TVs, tiny digital cameras or ultrathin laptops.
“I came for the PS3,” he said, anxiously waiting for a moment with the machine.
After playing for a few minutes, McDuffie said he was impressed. “I’m just trying to figure out how to get one,” he said. “I didn’t pre-order, so I’m going to have to stand in line overnight.”
The PS3 is driven by a high-powered cell processor, making game play super smooth and graphics amazingly detailed. A gigabit Ethernet for online gaming and a Blu-ray disc player comes standard on the console, as does a wireless controller.
The PS3 can play games and movies at “1080p,” which is the highest definition resolution currently available.
But Sony has already experienced problems in developing the PS3. Sony reported a $366 million operating loss in its gaming division in the third quarter because of development charges. The launch in Europe was delayed until March 2007 because of mass production problems in the Blu-ray drive.
Tim Mah, 13, of Honolulu had one word for the new machine: “Wow.”
Dyron Mack, a 35-year-old computer analyst, said he plans to buy a PS3 without consulting his wife or disclosing the cost.
“I’m not going to tell her. You just show up with it and let her be mad,” he said. “You just say, ‘I’m sorry. I lost the receipt.'”
BUSINESSWEEK US in part contributed to this story