Sony PlayStation 2 Launches in North America

The successor to the PlayStation arrives in North America amid shortages and unprecedented demand.

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The highly anticipated Sony PlayStation 2 has launched for a suggested retail price of US$299.99. With only 500,000 units available in its first shipment, the console sold out at most retail outlets across North America by early this morning. To commemorate the launch and to give their customers first access to the console, several retailers opened their doors at 12:01 a.m. The PlayStation store at the Metreon in San Francisco had a large turnout, with more than 300 people--some camping out since early Wednesday morning. At midnight, Sony ushered in the PlayStation 2 era with a countdown. Surprisingly, despite the grave shortage and the fact that most of the people looking to buy a PlayStation 2 were turned away at virtually every retailer, the launch came off without any significant glitches.

"Just as the PlayStation game console appealed to a mass-market audience, driving the growth of the interactive entertainment category to unprecedented levels, the PlayStation 2 will create a new market for the next level of entertainment experience in the home," commented Kaz Hirai, president and chief operating officer for Sony Computer Entertainment America. "The incredible success of the PlayStation 2 launch will firmly establish Sony Computer Entertainment America as the driving force behind computer entertainment."

Even before the PlayStation 2 went on sale today, several retailers were reporting strong sales of PS2 software, the first of which became available over a week ago. Consumers have been stocking up on such games as Madden NFL 2001 and Tekken Tag Tournament, which are already among the top sellers for the week ending October 21. According to PC Data, Madden NFL 2001 was fifth on the top 10 video game sales charts for that week, and Namco's Tekken Tag Tournament was eighth. Overall, the PlayStation 2 software earned an 11 percent market share during that week.

"Retail outlets reported today that they were sold out of PS2 consoles by 9 a.m. this morning," said Matt Gravett, game analyst for PC Data. "It's a definite measure of the hysteria around the PS2 that people are willing to buy software with no guarantee that they'll have hardware to play it. They're all revved up with no place to go."

The PlayStation 2 is in such high demand that Amazon.com sold out of all three of its PS2 bundles in a matter of minutes. Sony expects to ship 100,000 units a week through Christmas, for a total of 1.3 million units by the end of the holiday season. However, the console is expected to remain in short supply for several more weeks, as the demand seems to have far outpaced supply.

For more on the PlayStation 2 launch, watch our on-site coverage at the Metreon in San Francisco on GameSpot Live.

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