The (console) War rages on. Yesterday was "L" Day Minus 37, and Gamestop/EB officially opened preorders for the PS3, "selling" every available unit in just a few hours.
The chaos at the scenes of retailers nationwide was not unlike that of a Pearl Jam concert mixed with the theatrical re-release of the original Star Wars films, mixed with a dozen or so game nerds standing in line on the sidewalk of a strip mall as North America's largest game retailer(s) proved once-and-for-all that no one can hype a console launch quite like they can. The holy grail of technology fans, the "Early Adopters," picked up that flag and ran with it, dropping their preorder tickets (not the actual consoles, mind you, just the ticket verifying their right to return and pay another several hundred dollars in November for the console) on Ebay for as much as $1850.00US.
Yet in order to prevent the mass grumbling and rampant dirty looks associated with last year's Xbox360 shortages (the company over-sold pre-orders), Gamestop apparently decided to only sell pre-orders for units they would actually be able to deliver on launch day.
And trust me my friends, I'm fully aware that statements like the above (while true) are part of what's makes it so difficult to earn respect for our industry among the mainstream press.
The company also simultaneously opened the door to an entirely new form of criticism by apparently allowing their own employees to preorder the units, effectively reducing the number of available units per store by the number of each franchise's employees (typically around 6). Which in some cases would effectively make the PS3 "unavailable" before the store even opened (and could explain some of those rapid sell outs).
Gamestop/EB's allotment of between 5-20 units per store sold out within hours (in some cases, minutes), yet to determine exactly how many of North America's reported total allotment of 400,000 PS3 units this comprised, one would have to do some fancy research and complicated math, and I'm just not up to that today. Thankfully, someone else did it for me.
If PS3 Fanboy is to be believed, then we're only talking about 10% of the total available number of North American PS3 launch units, approximately 40,000, about the same number of Atari Jaguars sold in New York and San Francisco in 1993.
So where are the other 360,000 PS3s? Probabably at Wal-Mart or Best Buy, and to get your chance at one (providing you don't have a thousand dollars or so to spend at Ebay) you'll have to line up on November 17th and take your chances. Or you can wait until the Cabbage Patch-like feeding frenzy is over, the price comes down and the manufacturing process becomes a little more stable. It would also be a good thing if there weren't also questions about the machine's operating system and online service less than a month before launch.
In other Sony news, the company's debt rating has been adjusted to reflect the fact that some people think they're going to have a hard time making money and/or paying back the billions of yen they just borrowed over the next few years.