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PS3 Game Is Afoot, But Only for a Few

17 Nov, 2006 By: Jessica Wolf

It was game on for PlayStation 3 fans — at least for those who wanted to stand in line for hours or even days.

Sony's much-anticipated and delayed next-generation console finally made its debut Nov. 17, but actually getting one proved very difficult. With only 400,000 units shipped to U.S. retailers, the law of supply and demand kicked in, and already the console hit prices as high as $25,000 bundled with software. The throngs reportedly attracted trouble, as thieves targeted a line at a Connecticut Wal-Mart, and crowd control issues brought out the police in several areas.

At a shopping center that houses the only Best Buy and Target locations in Hollywood, would-be PS3 owners turned out en masse beginning the afternoon of Nov. 14 when Best Buy allowed a line to start. The street next to the center was shut down for the big event to hold a special stage and party area. The night of Nov. 16, Dave Navarro's LA jam band Camp Freddy entertained line waiters, and Jason Alexander from “Seinfeld” put in an appearance. There were more than 200 people lined up, nearly all stocked with sleeping bags, blankets, tents, tables, computers, games, books and homework.

Los Angeles resident Al Campos got in line early Nov. 14 and was about 50 customers back. (Best Buy required ID with purchase and only sold one system per address.) He refused to believe the store might run out before they got to him, even though he had heard local reports that Best Buy stores only had 25 PS3 units per location. “It's not possible,” he said. “There's no way they only have that many.”

Campos said he bought an HDTV set in anticipation of the PS3. The fact that the device plays Blu-ray Discs was “one of the other main reasons” he was so eager to get it.

The rumor was this particular Best Buy had about 200 players to sell. Indeed, that's about how many people were in line the night of Nov. 16.

Even farther down the line was a frustrated Eric Hoffman, who had a crew of friends he was paying to wait in line with him. Hoffman admitted his plan was to buy as many units as he could and sell them on eBay.

“If they run out, I'm out a lot of money again,” Hoffman said, having recently gone through a debacle at a Toys “R” Us location trying to grab multiple Elmo dolls.Upstairs, the Target store was not planning on letting people line up until Nov. 15, but relented later in the evening Nov. 14, said Paul Frankhouser, who was first in line at the Target location, after scoping out Best Buy. “I just wasn't sure how many they had, because they don't tell you,” he said.

Target executives were pointedly unhappy about the PS3 shipment they did get. For both systems, Target was “disappointed in the final allocations,” said Gregg Steinhafel, Target company president. “We were led to believe we would get limited but reasonable quantities, and those have come in at less.”

Nintendo's Wii's was a bit better, as the new game system shipment was “reasonably more healthy and appropriate for a holiday season,” he said.

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